The necessity for effective soft skills development is often taken for granted by organizations and the employees as well. Potential employees tend to polish their hard skills more, than trying to improve their overall demeanor towards work. Training and development programmes are considered a routine chore and not a possible edge over other colleagues.
However, with changing times and an increasingly competitive work environment, many companies and their employees seek a way out of monotony and recognition to do something out of the ordinary. Learning and Development programmes provide a welcome change to employees, who wish to engage in a variety of work and add potential progress to their roles within the organisation. This also increases productivity, value, and boosts the employee’s motivation, subsequently adding to the company’s overall performance. If the entire working force within an organisation gets a chance to polish their lacking skills, it creates a positive attitude, internally and externally, benefiting the company itself.
In the rat race to outdo competition, all candidates focus on academic excellence and development of the ‘right’ hard skills demanded by a company. This has led to an abundance of potential employees with the required hard skills, and many companies now resort to hiring candidates that are a cultural fit with advanced soft skills:
In a new study by American Express (AXP), it was found that over 60 percent of managers agree that soft skills are the most important when evaluating an employee’s performance, followed by 32 percent citing hard skills and only 7 percent social media skills. When breaking down which soft skills were most important, managers chose the ability to prioritize work, having a positive attitude, and teamwork skills as their top three requirements for management roles.
Building a positive attitude at entry level creates a work force that blends well with each other, creating an environment that is necessary for optimum output. Taking cue from other employees, even a person who is not passionate towards his work, would try to achieve maximum satisfaction.
Challenges of Learning and Development programmes at Management Colleges
L and D programmes while at college, ensure inculcation of soft skills at the entry level, which applies better than unlearning and relearning at the corporate level. Training as a part of the curriculum creates individuals, who are professionals and not raw amateurs sent to the company for moulding. However, such training programmes have challenges of their own:
A comprehensive pattern suitable to all companies
One of the biggest challenges of a soft skill development programme is to create a pattern that covers all the requirements for a specific job. Many institutes adopt various training approaches such as mentor programs, recording work and providing substantial feedback, while some organizations, such as Achieve Global and Integrity Sales, address the challenge by providing follow up training after the basic training is complete.
A lasting impression
Even after a programme has been created and executed, one major concern for companies and employees is that, even after follow-on training, behavioural changes do not last long. Soft skill development aims at modifying the individual’s perception and attitude towards work ethics, colleagues and the office environment. So how can one completely transform one’s personality over the course of a few weeks? The answer to this could be an effective module that combines practical training methods with the required educational content and a feedback, to help these skills last.
Possible solutions for colleges and organisations
With changing times, abstract qualifications such as a good attitude, an innovative mind-set, strong work ethics, etc. are as important to employers as an educational background. Colleges can focus on inculcation of certain values such as communication skills, formal and informal networking, effective listening, and interacting with co-workers. Enthusiasm and attitude building leads to a confident staff that believes in team work, while critical thinking exercises ensures personal growth and professionalism.
Corporate Readiness Score (CRS) is a gradation system created by Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management that measures students’ abilities in communication skills, interpersonal skills, team work, problem solving, leadership, and professionalism. A students is evaluated based on these components and the higher a student scores on each of these parameters, the more a recruiter will value them. The goal is to make each student a highly desired candidate for each corporate recruiter, and reinforce these skills as a part of the curriculum.
The aim of a comprehensive soft skills development module is to create corporate ready individuals, who uphold a company’s reputation and performance. Many colleges and organisations have identified this need of a building value loaded workforce that is passionate, vibrant, and a collective group. The challenges are many, but overcoming these to the best of abilities will ultimately lead to new heights of success, for the companies and the employees as well.