HR Strategy

The Hard Facts About Soft Skills: What They Are and How You Can Foster Them

May 22, 2019

Imagine you’re looking at a job in your organization and reflecting on the tasks the person occupying the position has to carry out: to do the job, the candidate needs to be able to run diagnostic tests, set up online employee profiles, and install new technology. Sounds like some basic tasks a technology professional, for example, might have to do, right? Sure, these are some of the hard skills—specific, teachable, and easily defined and measured—but hard skills aren’t the whole picture. Other parts of the job that may be overlooked, like communicating with co-workers or being able to work under pressure, are equally important.

Enter soft skills. Soft skills are the attributes, traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed for success in a job. They can include communication, creative thinking, decision-making, time management, problem-solving, and critical thinking, among others.

Soft skills are like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: while everyone will have a unique ratio of peanut butter to jelly that suits them best, and even special preferences on variety, consistency, and flavour, the sandwich just doesn’t taste as delicious without both ingredients. Developed over time, everyone has a different mix of these skills and are better at certain ones than others.

In the same way, most positions require working with or interacting with others, so soft skills are vital. Even if you are a team of one, you still have to interact with other teams and external parties. Larger organizations are filled with people who need to work together and bring different expertise to successfully complete a project. The necessity is in the numbers. Soft skills have been shown to be predictors of job performance, career success, and leadership potential, with 75% of long-term job success coming down to soft skills mastery.

Its clear soft skills are a critical part of every role, but how do you encourage their development? Download our FREE Advancing Employee Soft Skills Guide to help your organization successfully determine, hire for, and foster the proper soft skills for every role in your workplace.

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