WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS AND WHY ARE THEY SO IMPORTANT?
With a highly competitive and quickly shifting market keeping companies on their toes, soft skills in the workplace are now the most valuable asset for companies. Qualities like leadership and assertiveness break new ground in every industry.
Because of this, soft skills courses are crucial for professional growth.
So: what are soft skills exactly?
Soft skills might sound inconsequential, but, in fact, they are used every single day by every member of a company, and they are, more often than not, the defining factor at play in a business’ biggest successes and its biggest failures. You read that right; soft skills can make or break a company.
In general terms, competences such as interpersonal skills, negotiation, critical thinking, assertivity, coaching, all fall within the large umbrella that is the term. Don’t let the word “soft” mislead you; in fact, multiple studies have shown that soft skills are key, more so than hard skills, on the path to success, both for individuals and for businesses.
Soft skills are, in short, those skills and personal qualities that are not included within a person’s set of “hard” or technical skills, but are still critical to the functioning of a company, from the smallest, most specialised teams, to the highest tiers of management.
Soft skills: not just a corporate fad
As the buzzword catches on, many business decision-makers wonder whether it’s worth to allocate time and resources towards developing the interpersonal or leadership skills of their executives and their talent. We’ve seen vague, all-encompassing terms like “results-driven” and “synergy” come and go without leaving much of a mark. How is “soft skills” any different?
But researchers rarely invent phenomenons; they usually just name them. Soft skills as a concept were first studied a few decades ago, but they gave George Washington a permanent place in the history books. Soft skills were also Martin Luther King’s tool for changing society forever; they gave Napoleon Bonaparte, control over an entire continent.
And nowadays, we know how: without soft skills like charisma, strategic thinking, and leadership, to name a few, you won’t get too far! And though people like these are often referred to as “born leaders”, soft skills are, decidedly, nurture and not nature: like computer skills and software prowess, they can also be taught and perfected.
New rules in town, or how soft skills training became a must-have
Every HR specialist is privy to the fact that soft skills have been the talk of the town for a while now; hiring managers know what to look for, but young professionals are catching on, too. This year, the LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report confirmed once and for all that priorities have changed for good.
Where job seekers used to prioritize hard, measurable benefits, like income expectations and a prospective employer’s influence on the market, the list of requirements has grown. In the shift towards a more digital and global workplace, values like flexibility and company culture have stolen the spotlight. Valuable, fresh talent will be discerning when choosing an employer; if a company doesn’t foster a healthy environment and provide soft skills training to their managers so they can lead better, this might be a dealbreaker.
In such a flexible job market, resumé gaps and job-hopping are no longer taboo: job seekers can and will leave if the grass is greener on the other side. Only companies that provide an amicable work culture, sensible leadership, and possibilities for growth and coaching won’t be left in the dust.
How can businesses use soft skills training to stay relevant in 2022?
We’ve established that hiring managers keep a close eye on what prospective employees bring to the table during an interview process, particularly when it comes to soft skills, as these are more nuanced and therefore harder to evaluate on mere observation, not mentioning from a resumé!
So, if talent with soft skills is already valued and carefully selected, why would companies invest in resources, such as soft skills courses, for their teams?
For starters, though it’s already widely acknowledged in the business world, this fundamental characteristic of the 21st century bears repeating: the market is evoling faster than ever in all of human history, and this trend will only increase. The demanded hard skills are highly mutable, but… so are soft skills! Change brings change, and with it, new demands in order to stay relevant.
Attracting and retaining great talent is a must but, like plants, talent must be watered and cared for if a business is to stay current and competitive. in 2022, this is a non-negotiable demand from both the market and the workforce: managers must have a strong, updated set of soft skills to fulfill business potential and llead a team towards success.