Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Soft Side of Change Management (20-slide PowerPoint presentation). This document contains 6 frame Change Management frameworks that deal with the "soft" side of managing effective organizational change: 1. Dimensions of Change 2. Emotional Cycle of Change 3. Ingredients of Change 4. Level of Commitment 5. Phases of Team Building 6. Trust Formula
Soft Skills: Future Competencies!
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Hard skills will help you get the interview, but soft skills will enable you to get the job. To get and keep the job, you will need a cluster of traits and personality characteristics in line with work ethics, positive attitude and a whole host of interpersonal skills. A doctor needs to have certifications, on-the job-training and other technical skills to accomplish his job. Beyond these skills, which doctor do you go to? The one who is flexible and always willing to help; or the one who is unpleasant and looking at you as a number. Soft skills concern all of us independently of your status. They are the ones that can set you from the crowd and reveal your uniqueness and added value in the work place.
You may be a student, a manager, a lawyer, or a president but what matters most is not your status but your ability to adapt your communication and make your journey enjoyable and exciting for you and for the others. Soft skills will enable you to develop your social skills, enhance your decision making, empower your team, and make from you a great leader.
“Working hard on your job will make you a living, but working hard on yourself will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn
Let’s dig more into the differences between hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the technical skills that may be easy to quantify and measure. They are learnable, and refer to a specific field of study as math, statistics, computer science, accounting, or architecture skills. Hard skills are applicable independently of which company you work for. They may be fundamental for your career growth but they are no longer the most important ones to rely on. Hard skills are only the apparent part of the iceberg.
Soft skills, however, are hard to quantity and measure; they are often referred to personal effectiveness, social interactions, and leadership. They are the personal attributes, and communication abilities required for success in any job career. They are not associated with specific programs and are considered as transferrable skills across all disciplines. Soft skills also include empathy, listening skills, attitude, motivation, creativity, and human relations skills.
Four main distinctions to consider regarding the soft skills:
Ongoing process: compared to hard skills, soft skills require an ongoing journey. Self-improvement is not a one shot action but a continuous process as it will depend on the situations, and people you encounter. You will have to learn new skills, unlearn others, and adjust on a continuous basis. Digitalization, evolution of the market, the new vision of education and many other aspects turned soft skills as something mandatory for those who would like to keep themselves self-motivated and grow.
Adaptable: soft skills are not right or wrong like statistics or maths. They are not about equations to strictly respect to get the desired results. They are adaptable depending on the context, people, and situations; adaptability is a major skill to embrace as it will enable the person to be flexible, and tolerant.
Transferable: soft skills, unlike hard skills, are not dependent on one specific job; they are transferable as they can fit in all work places.
No exam is involved: Soft skills are difficult to measure and quantify; they are intangible but can be measured through our feelings and senses. Self-confidence cannot be measured but your attitude and your communication style can be indicators of your level of confidence.
LinkedIn published in August 2016 the result of a study conducted on soft skills and came out with 10 traits that were the most sought after by employers: communication, organization, team work, punctuality, critical thinking, social skills, creativity, interpersonal communication, adaptability, friendly personality. Another research, conducted by Harvard university, Stanford research center, the Carnegie Foundation, have all concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills and people skills. And only 15% of job success from technical skills or hard skills
From other side, the world economic forum of 2016, identified 10 soft skills that everyone should have by 2020 including: problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, team management, coordination, emotional intelligence, decision making, customer satisfaction, negotiation, cognitive flexibility.
The approaches may differ from one to another but they are all lined up on the importance of soft skills in regards to their career success within the organization independently of the status. I studied many of these approaches, and I found out that most of them are focusing on the traits to develop rather than the path to follow to get into them.
The Soft Skills Cycle below encompasses the key traits and attributes needed to achieve outstanding level of soft skills; and it also displays the evolution and the interactions between them. One cannot tackle self-confidence if he or she still struggles with emotions regulation and communication. You cannot develop leadership if you still don’t master the basic of soft skills.
Self-consciousness is the first step to get into this process as it is the key factor that will ignite people’s motivation. I experienced after many seminars that people will get motivated once conscious about their strengths, weaknesses, and clearer about their vision for their future career. “Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you moving” Jim Rohn. My previous article tackles in details how to develop daily habits to reach your goals (click here).
Achieving great results and turning the invisible into visible will depend on your level of engagement. This process reminds me of people going through diet. They will have to make sacrifices regarding their nutrition, install new habits, and handle all the inconveniences of being deprived of many things. Patience and perseverance are the only attributes that will turn the invisible into visible results. Once the expected results attained, people will feel more self-confident, positive, and happy. This is applicable for the SSC.
The soft skills have become a great debate at the national and international level. The university Caddi Ayyad is the first public university in Morocco to integrate the soft skills for the new 50 bachelor and Master degree students of 2017-2018. Such accomplishment is not a coincidence but it conveys an enthusiastic and optimistic vision of the Pr Abdelatif Miraoui, the president of the university. His determination and strong belief in the success of this program are contagious and impactful on the whole team. It aims to provide students from different social backgrounds with equal chances to succeed and evolve. I am very happy to be part of this program as it is for me more like a social project than a simple mission within the university.
Soft skills are the future competencies everyone should focus on to turn the invisible into visible.
“If you want to have more, you have to become more. For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. If you grow, everything grows for you.” – Jim Rohn
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