It’s been two years that Sneha has been looked over for promotions. Her appraisal has always been good, yet there seems to be some misconnection between what she perceives is right for her and what her superiors feel. When it comes to praising her work, the bosses have no qualms to admit that Sneha is hardworking, intelligent, and focused. She was little disappointed when she was not promoted the previous year, but she brushed it aside thinking she should focus more on her work. But same thing happened this year. Post the appraisal season, she decided to have a chat with her manager. And she realised in no time why she was being side-lined – she lacks in soft skills.
For an employee, even when it is supremely important to have proper hard skills which are very specific – like skills which can be defined or measured such as writing, reading, number-skills, technological abilities among others, it’s the softer skills which give them the edge over others – such as common sense, communication, people management, etiquette, friendly personas and the like. And according to the recent LinkedIn Survey, about 58% hiring managers say the lack of soft skills among job candidates is limiting their company’s productivity.
Why soft skills are important
Imagine having a manager who refuses to communicate, uses little imagination to be creative in driving projects, and then asks reasons from you why you failed to communicate with him. Does it happen to you? And you always thought there must be something amiss in you because you can’t seem to deliver what the superior wants you to do. The alarming thing is, it’s your manager who lacks in this most important skill of being a communicator. And why having the soft skills is important? While at the entry level, it might not be essentially necessary, because you need to prove your mettle doing the basic work. As you move up the ladder, the ambit of work increases. And along with that the collaboration, responsibilities, projects also spiral. And here teamwork, social skills, creativity, management come into play. The better you are at these, the more you will succeed.
So what are the most in-demand soft skills which you should possess to be successful? According to LinkedIn Survey, the top-10 soft skills which are essential are:
- Always Punctual
- Critical Thinking
- Social Skills
- Interpersonal Communication
- Friendly Personality
And organizations which are investing in recruiting the top talent are just not looking for hard skills but they are emphasising on the soft ones more. The survey also mentions that the “potential reason why more fundamental soft skills -- like communication, teamwork, and critical thinking -- are more sought after among employers is because they’re applicable to every job function, industry, and level of seniority.” And HR is among the top 10 industries where soft skills are a pre-requisite to succeed.
Having soft skills will not only enhance your workability with the team-mates, but will also ensure you are the most sought-after leader in the long run. World-class leaders are those who are adept at utilizing their soft skills for better productivity. Necessarily it’s their soft skills like people management, punctuality, mentoring abilities which determine how good they are as leaders.
Brushing up on your soft skills
Experts believe that hard skills can be taught to anyone. It’s a systematic way of doing things over and over again and then it becomes a habit. The hard part of soft skills is you need to develop them within yourself. You can’t ask someone else to make you creative. Nobody will point at you saying your adaptability quotient is low – you will need to figure it where and how to do it. Communication – until and unless you decide to let people/team-mates/colleagues know about how you feel about a project or even what you think a project needs, no-one can say these on your behalf.
While it’s easy to say that “I know my job and I am extremely bad at managing people”, think again. This philosophy might not work if you want to lead by an example.