Firm handshake warm smile, infectious enthusiasm, meticulous time management, robust optimism, impeccable English, effective communication – all these unquestionably reflect the demands at workplace for a successful professional. They can be included under one umbrella term “Soft Skills” – the enhancement of which leads to one’s professional progress. Many of us may have outstanding hard skills or technical skills but if we lack soft skills, it is difficult to stride the path to success at the workplace. Hence, it is important to know what these soft skills are and how vital they are for our professional progress.
Known by varied names such as life skills, survival skills and people skills, soft skills covers multifarious abilities such as communication and interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, team skills negotiation skills time management, business etiquettes , social grace etc.
The rules for succeeding in business are constantly changing. Not too long ago, technical competence and knowledge were the key drivers of career growth and success. Soft skills were relegated to playing second fiddle, or ignored altogether. Now, however the scales have tipped and soft skills have emerged as a tool with enough power to make or break’s one’s career.
So to improve one’s career prospects and to enhance his/her personality as a whole, one needs soft skills.
The annual rankings of MBA colleges often place communication and interpersonal skills as the most crucial skills needed for success in the corporate world. Studies by Stanford Research institute among Fortune CEOs found that 75 per cent of long term job success depends on soft skills and only 25 percent on technical skills. According to NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Service Companies), the Indian IT and ITeS industry has grown at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) 28 per cent since 1999-2000 and is expected to continue to grow rapidly. However, there are new fears that this growth is not sustainable due to serious challenges on the HR front.
Employees at all levels work in an environment in which technical knowledge alone is not enough to create value for the customers. On the other hand, companies in India feel the need to promote people faster than ever before to meet their growth needs. At the same time, they are also finding that the candidates do not possess the necessary skills to make the transition from a technical or functional specialist to a team leader, supervisor or a manager. Companies in the IT, BPO, KPO, Biotech and Pharmaceuticals industries have found that their people need soft skills to work effectively in cross functional or project teams, local teams or global teams.
Today, lack of competence in soft skills is marked as one of the reasons or poor rate of employability of technical graduates. Though it is true that soft skills need to be inculcated at a very young age at home itself by parents or elders, the role of schools and colleges can’t be ignored.
The changing dynamics of the corporate world have made stiff collar and formal attitude a passé. However compromising on basic communication etiquette will bring you disrepute.
* Speak softly and avoid disturbing your co-workers. If possible walk out of the work area before you attend the call.
* If you are in a meeting either switch off your mobile or put it on the silent mode. Avoid answering calls or responding to text messages. If it is absolutely necessary to do so, be courteous and explain the situation before excusing yourself from the room.
While families and schools can teach us certain personal habits, discipline, moral values etc., universities can develop our workplace skills. Hence, it is time for the universities to realize the need to inculcate soft drinks in their students through activities such as team presentations, group discussions, case discussions, public speaking, mock interviews etc. It is time for us to realize that hard skills and soft skills should complement each other in order to achieve excellence in one’s profession.