How would you predict a stranger’s chance of success at work?
On his technical knowledge? And on the experience he gains as he moves onward?
You would be better off observing his soft skills to make the prediction.
According to research by Stanford and the Carnegie Foundation, 85% of the reason a person gets a job, will keep a job and move ahead in that job has to do with people skills and people knowledge.
In a similar vein, the Harvard Bureau of Vocational Guidance, in its survey of people who were fired from their jobs, found that for every one failure because of work skills, there were two failures in human relation skills.
If functional knowledge were to be the sole criterion for success at work, your success would be determined by your school and college grades. But real life proves to us every day that this logic doesn’t hold water.
It is soft skills that are proving to be the reliable weapon in your arsenal, complementing your occupational skills to determine your ability to get a job, get a promotion or a substantial pay hike. Long ignored in favor of the hard functional skills, today, academic institutions and organizations alike are focusing on soft skills.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are a person’s Emotional Quotient (EQ). Comprising communication skills, self-management skills, leadership and interpersonal skills, they also include personal habits, friendliness, optimism and other similar traits. If we use a broad and relevant definition, they include the way you present yourself, your vocal and verbal communication skills, body language, etiquette, your emotional intelligence and empathy, stress and time management. They also include effective team management and leadership skills, your ability to negotiate well and your coaching skills too.
In the end, soft skills are the behavioral tendencies that have a great bearing on how well people get along with others, convince teams of their viewpoint, conduct successful negotiations and lead teams and organizations effectively. They are the Emotional Quotient that enables a person to form relationships with others and manage their business, personal and social lives successfully and meet their goals.
Why do Soft Skills Matter?
Pathways to Prosperity, a Harvard project related to preparing young adults for work refers to the importance of giving them soft skills in addition to learning and experience in a career area to do better at finding jobs.
When Target Training International conducted research over a group of serial entrepreneurs, comparing them with a control group, it found that 5 distinct personal skills helped them predict with over 90 per cent accuracy who would become serial entrepreneurs.
These 5 qualities, the ability to persuade people to change the way they think, believe or behave; leadership; personal accountability demonstrated through initiative, self-confidence, resilience and willingness to take responsibility for personal actions; goal orientation and; interpersonal skills are soft skills that can be learnt with training.
Realising this fact, organizations have turned their attention to soft skills during the selection process. They are encouraging their employees to enhance their soft skills through programs from in-house executives as well as external consultants. Educational institutions, including schools, colleges and institutions of higher education are including soft skills within their curriculum.
Social and Personal Lives
When it comes to soft skills, what holds good for people’s business lives is true for their social and personal lives. People who are strong on soft skills are the ones who find that they have meaningful social and personal relationships.
From empathy to time and stress management, negotiations, self-presentation, etiquette to communication skills, a host of soft skills help people build healthy social and personal lives.
Given this fact, many individuals are undergoing training to enhance their soft skills, helping them evolve into individuals whose advice is sought and respected, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives in all spheres.
Soft Skills Training
With the importance of soft skills gaining recognition, training to enhance an individual’s soft skills has risen in demand. Organizations, educational institutions and individuals alike are seeking the services of soft skills trainers.
While many HR executives and external consultants undertake soft skills training, it takes trained experts with in-depth knowledge, effective training methods and valid certification to undertake soft skills training and establish themselves in this rising domain.
Professional Program in Soft Skills Training
ICBI’s Professional Program in Soft Skills Training is a comprehensive program that helps you as a trainer to meet the training requirements of individuals across all domains. At the end of the course you will be granted a certificate from ICBI and accredited by SQA – Scottish Qualifications Authority – making you a Certified Soft Skills Trainer.
The author, Suman Agarwal, is the senior-most Image Consultant in the Indian Sub-continent and director of Image Consulting Business Institute. Image Consulting Business Institute is a pioneer in India and one of the biggest brands in the world in Image Management and Soft Skills Training Space. It offers programs for people to become Image Consultants and Soft Skills Trainers and at the same time offers Image Management and Soft Skills Training services to individuals and companies.