Some hard truths about soft skills
Computer programming… graphic design… marketing…data analysis.
“Hard skills” are objective. They’re measurable and they can be learned in an academic or professional training setting. Experience and education can build this skillset.
“Soft skills”, on the other hand, are subjective. You may not always recognize them when you see them, but you know when you “feel them.”
The term itself was coined, ironically, by none other than the U.S. Army back in the 1970s. Now here we are a quarter of the way into the new millennium and according to military.com, “Army trainers continue to invest as much time and expertise in training soft skills along with the hard ones.” And the top three faves in the Army’s soft skills hit parade? Grit, servant leadership, and communication. Sound familiar?
Soft skills are often hard to come by
Over the years, they’ve been called “durable skills,” “employability skills,” and “foundational skills”. But whatever you call them, two things are as true in today’s workforce as ever before: 1) they remain vitally important, and 2) the soft skills gap in Corporate America is growing wider.
From www.adeccousa.com, “In a recent survey, 64% of hiring managers said they have difficulty finding employees with adequate critical thinking skills while 55% and 54% said respectively that listening skills and interpersonal skills were the hardest skills to find in job applicants.…….According to our survey, 92% of executives think that American workers aren’t as skilled as they need to be. As a result, nearly half (45%) feel that they are missing out on growth opportunities, while 34% feel that product development is suffering, and 30% think that company profits are being hurt.”
Sadly, neither the hallowed halls of American academia nor the best trade school trainers possess the skills to fill this gap [pun intended].
Maria Flynn reports in forbes.com that “….. A report from the Society of Human Resources Management observed that while four-year colleges were once considered a sure source for soft-skill development, now nearly three in four employers say they have a hard time finding graduates with the durable skills they need.”
So what happened?
Technological hardware happened. Computer software happened. An alarming fixation on academic standardized tests and test scores happened. The result? According to Chiefexecutive.net, “Mental agility, independence, and self-confidence are the top three soft skills that Millennials lack.” And while Gen-Z is hailed as the most tech savvy generation, “…they struggle to develop interpersonal and collaborative skills,” per projectionsinc.com.
Improving soft skills doesn’t have to be painful
Critical thinking…adaptability…teamwork… public speaking…written communication.These soft skills may not be as easily quantifiable as computer programming, but they are invaluable in the workplace and fortunately they’re also teachable!
The development of soft skills can make the climb up that corporate ladder a lot easier, especially if you approach it strategically and mindfully. For instance, self-awareness is a soft skill in itself which can help you develop other skills. As you become more self-aware, you become a more active listener. And as your people skills grow, building relationships with colleagues will be easier as will your collaborative skills, which will make you a real asset to your team.
The National Soft Skills Association conducted a survey recently which revealed “…that 85% of job success is determined by soft skills, while only 15% is determined by technical abilities……Being an effective part of a team means that you can work well with different personalities and can collaborate, delegate, and provide support when needed.”
A solid GPA, technical proficiency, software mastery, and even a level of business acumen can make you look good on paper, but how do you look face-to-face?
What about your “persona”—the aspects of your character you present to others?
Enter Magnovo.Our team can help develop, groom, and polish your persona and make you more self-aware, more approachable, and more of a company asset. Want to play hardball in the corporate arena? You need a dynamic set of soft skills. You need Magnovo.