Never stop working on your soft skills
Soft skills should always be a work in progress. Skills such as communication, teamwork, collaboration and social intelligence are things we improve on throughout our lives, with experience gained in both our personal lives and work lives only furthering our abilities. In the current age of technical innovation, learning and development professionals are imploring businesses and individuals not to forget about soft skills. Investment in this area is more important than ever in today’s climate. We spoke to a select group of industry leaders to find out why they think we should all keep working on our soft skills, no matter what.
Preparing for change
Soft skills are crucial as they allow us to adapt to change and alter the way in which we work, when necessary. They are the skills we need to develop. Danielle Milligan, Talent Development Manager at Arcadia Group, explains, “soft skills are at the core of development at work. If we don’t help people to develop and grow these skills it will become even harder to acquire knowledge and technical skills in the ever changing workplace.”
With Brexit on the horizon, uncertainty is another valid reason to invest in soft skills. Jonathan Tustain, Immersive Technologies Specialist for L&D said “soft skills are essential, even in today’s digital age, particularly if Brexit causes a shortfall in customer service talent. Such skills are less obvious to train someone in, but also to identify at the recruitment stage. At Contented Brothers we are using virtual reality to better identify people’s workplace values, social interaction, work ethic and emotional awareness and have found the results supply far more realistic data as to a candidate’s appropriateness for a role.”
The advantages of learning
In some cases, the benefits of improving a certain soft skill are not immediately obvious. However, this doesn’t mean that the skill should be overlooked. Tina Torntoft, L&D Manager and Coach at Bureau Veritas, feels that individuals should always be investing time and energy into learning and development. She said, “it is essential you continuously improve your soft skills. Regardless of how difficult the situation is, you will find a learning and that is a gift. Don’t look for the holes in the cheese, look for the whole cheese.”
Hard skills vs. soft skills
The world of work is an ever changing one, and the skills we need to succeed are always evolving. However, whereas hard skills require specific competencies based on certain training, soft skills are quite different.
Soft skills are the skills you learn throughout your life, and the advantages they bring you can be applied in a huge number of different ways. So, where some hard skills might become completely unnecessary due to technical advancements, soft skills never will.
Julian Jencquel, Executive Coach and Trainer agrees, stating “The difference between hard skills and soft skills is that when you learn the former, you are acquiring competencies that could become obsolete within the following year; when you learn the latter, you are tapping into the timeless wisdom of humanity.”
A world of opportunity
Having great soft skills opens up so many different opportunities to you, whether you’re an employee, business owner, or CEO of a global company. Communication is of the utmost importance, and as businesses seek to grow their brands globally, this soft skill is more essential than ever.
Nicholas Hnatiuk, Enterprise Account Director at Pluralsight said, “as we work in increasing matrix structures with colleagues and customers based in many different locations and countries, strong communication, team-working, empathy and other interpersonal skills are critical for success. Often known as soft skills – I see many people find these are in fact the most difficult to master.”
Tom Hall, Founder of creative content agency Contented Brothers warned of a greater gap in soft skills as a result of remote working. He explains that businesses need to do more to continue investing in great soft skills across their workforce, preparing for the shift towards remote working. “Where we see the biggest challenge is solving the soft skills deficit and employee engagement challenges, which we expect to only increase as the working culture shifts towards remote working. The significance of social media in people’s lives adds another factor, for good or ill.”
There is always room to improve on soft skills
As Paul Adam Mudd, Author at The Huffington Post and Thrive says, “put simply, people do business with people!”
When it comes to business, soft skills will never go out of style. From helping workforces to prepare for huge changes, to assisting businesses in expanding globally, soft skills are the skills you need to succeed long term. Skills like communication and collaboration are some of humankind’s greatest strengths, and when business invest in them there are huge rewards to be had.