Why Soft Skills Matter

Why is it that despite being highly knowledgeable and having technical expertise some people do not make it to the top of the organisational hierarchy? It has been observed that they tend to lack the skills essential to working with people. These skills called ‘people skills’ or ‘soft skills’ or ‘human skills’ affect a person’s relationship with others. They enable a person to be empathetic, and communicate and collaborate with others. Therefore, possessing these skills not only makes a person a better employee, but also a good human being. This does not mean that for career progression a person does not need technical or hard skills. There should be a judicious blend of hard and soft skills. Technical skills will get one started with an entry into a job of one’s choice, and ensure survival in the organisation, but it is the soft skills which are the power skills required to propel one’s career to desired heights. As one’s career progresses to leadership roles, soft skills become absolutely crucial to effectively lead and achieve career success.

Even though soft skills are so critical to one’s career they are often undervalued and not given the same importance as technical skills. Many assume that soft skills are related to attitude, therefore, quite difficult to learn. It is actually a set of skills which includes communication, team working, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, time management, negotiation, conflict management etc. These skills can be imbibed and developed with the appropriate development programmes, provided one has the right attitude to learn and willingness to apply the learning.

Moreover, organisations usually neglect these skills when drawing plans on employee development, as it is difficult to see a tangible visible outcome instantly. Also, organizations seem to assume that everyone knows and understands the importance of being on time, taking initiative, and being a good team player. Organisations must realise the significant impact of soft skills on employee attitude that in turns impacts their interactions with clients, customers, colleagues, supervisors, and other stakeholders. The more positive one's attitude is, the better will be the person's relationships. That's what fosters great team performance, happy work environment, and leads people to contribute to the organizational growth and development.

by Vandana Madhavkumar