Upskilling! Soft skilling
It is no secret that soft skills are very important to succeed in the professional world. However, many people seem to believe that soft skills are only important for certain profiles such as business development, customer service or perhaps in an HR job. While the assumption may not be entirely incorrect, there is something fundamentally wrong about it. Let me define soft skills as “the skills needed to communicate and interact with an individual or a group of people that are developed as a consequence of both internal and external factors influencing such skills”. To that extent, we all have soft skills. But, in most cases, they are underdeveloped, leaving a huge scope to develop them formally. For instance, there are only a handful of individuals who are good public speakers, despite not being formally trained in the art.
It can be noted that soft skills are dynamic in nature and differ from person to person. They evolve as we go through the rigors of life adapting to our environment and the same applies to soft skills.At a subconscious level we are all constantly updating, changing and modifying our quiver of skills. Why then does this belief that only ‘certain profiles’ need good soft skills exist? Doesn’t a factory worker need good soft skills to negotiate a pay raise with his boss? Or a doctor (although it is a core technical profile) while talking to his patients or instructing his assistants at the operation table? What about a pilot interacting with the air traffic control or an architect explaining his design to an uncompromising builder? The truth is, we all need soft skills regardless of the profession we find ourselves in. It could be argued that some professions are soft skills centric (think receptionist). And while others may not necessarily require Leonardo Di Caprio’s silky smile, confidence, team work, motivational factors etc. are soft skills that are a mandatory set of requirements for any job. Take for instance an under performing employee who loses confidence due to being shouted at by the boss. He may quickly lose his motivation to work and thereby contribute lesser to the team.
People seem to forget that skills can be upgraded and judging by industry standards the forgetfulness seems doubly applicable to soft skills. Maybe the under performing Mr. Jack needs a warm dose of upskilling rather than a hot load at obscenities. What about those seeking a job or looking for a promotion without upgrading their portfolio of soft skills? And what about those organizations that are spending huge amounts to pay their staff but not a fraction of that on training their employees?
It has been observed countless times that upskilling, especially of soft skills, can increase performance and productivity by at least to 20%! Similarly, a renewed perspective on making PPT’s could have an overwhelmingly positive effect on presentation delivery. Just the same, learning how to handle a tele-screening phone call would most certainly increase your chances of getting hired ten folds! Not only that but once you are hired, you need soft skills to keep your job too.
Companies these days are looking for something extra from candidates and having ‘degrees’ is not a measure to secure your position any more. Hence it is in the best interest of companies and individuals to research and identify the best suitable corporate training programs to upgrade their soft skills. And those that are still apathetic to the idea should think again. Because at the end of the day, people don’t buy products or services. They buy the person who is selling them.