Soft Skills

Hiring is a very difficult process; it takes a lot of time, patience, and money. Gone were the days when management only looks for technical skills alone, now, they are more focused with soft skills referring to non technical skills of an individual. What are soft skills? According to Mannering (1998) they are considered to be harder to identify, to distinguish. Ironically, for many managers, the soft skills are the hard skills. Ask anyone who has had to manage change, deal with organizational politics, or build a disparate group of people into an effective team (Holbeche, 2006). Platinum skills are developed through training and delegation, active listening, giving and receiving feedback, and creating a motivational environment. (Topchik, 2004).The appreciation and recognition are two such essential factors that make an individual sure of oneself and helps in boosting their morale. As for everything, this also requires balance as well, that is the employee should know that the appreciation and recognition received is because he/she deserved it. Unnecessary recognition and appreciation does nothing but gives a big head to the person who is not worthy of it. This fuel for motivation is highly required in most of the incidents but the overly use of it can stain the desired results.There’s also an issue regarding what the universities are teaching their students that are far from what the companies are really looking for. “There is a disjoint between what skills the companies need and what universities impart to the tech students,” says Ashish Sharma, a technology analyst at consultant Arthur D. Little in Singapore. (Liddle, 2006)Impact on Employer of Soft SkillsIt is considered difficult to assess the soft skills in an individual rather than the hard skills, the soft skills are very judgmental and cannot take quantitative tools into account, and however the hard skills can be easily classified as right or wrong. “And yet, ‘soft skills’ aren’t easy to spot — through traditional interviews, anyway. Savvy candidates can ‘talk the talk’—that doesn’t mean they’ll ‘walk the walk’” (McKenna, n.d.).Hence, even after the hiring process the employer cannot be cent percent sure as to whether the selected candidate would be fit in the given environment and whether he or she would be able to cope up or not. However, the given statement doesn’t state that hard skills would help in doing that as even technically sound people are not very flexible or adaptable due to which they have numerous problems in their daily lives in the professional environment.At times people are hired for what knowledge they have and are forcibly fired because they are unable to work with a team or do not possess enough skills to communicate there ideas accordingly to the required personnel. “People are often selected for their ‘hard skills’ (what they know, have done, or are trained to do). People are usually fired for their ’soft skills’ or a lack thereof” (McKenna, n.d.).Impact on Employee on Soft SkillsIt is not only the organization that is adversely affected by an incorrect choice of recruitment but the employee as well as he/she would not feel motivated in an environment where his knowledge is not being tested and he is unable to further learn. “Here’s another reality. Two out of three new employees will not be meeting expectations six to 12 months after being hired. Some times their sub-par performance will be tolerated; some times they will be fired” (McKenna, n.d.).Hence, not only the organization is being adversely affected by the selected candidate but the candidate is also suffering as he is being judged on immaterial things rather than the knowledge which is required to pursue the job.Shift from Hard to Soft SkillsIn the recent years there has been a shift in the assessment by the Human Resource departments of the organizations. The recruitment managers are looking more for people who have good personalities and are capable to work under pressure, are team players, get along with people etc. rather than assessing the hard core knowledge of the actual work. To some extent these features of an individual holds a lot of importance in the overall business important and the absence of which can be excruciatingly painful for the organization resulting in heavy losses even if the person is technically sound and competent. But the recent trend has begun to take a far too one sided approach ignoring the hard skills of the people hired as “the pendulum has swung too far in one direction” (Green, M, n.d.).In the process of acquiring worthy individuals, the organizations lost track when soft skills became way more important than the actual knowledge of the tasks. One needs to strike out balance in order to make sure that everything happens smoothly, excess of anything is not good. Asses yourself what you need to improve on. For an instance, you’re a System Administrator in a multi national company, most of the time you’re dealing with various suppliers not only within your location but with other countries as well. How will you be able to communicate well? Of course you have to polish your communication skills. It is also viable for you to have better presentation skills especially when there’s a need for you to explain a certain project. Merely stating technical terms would not help you convey your message across, you have to let them understand what you’re talking about, the way you give your presentation is very crucial.What will happen now to people who lack with soft skills? There are those who are honor students and always finish first to competitions. Sometimes they are mostly considered who lack soft skills; there are instances that they are only better with written exams but when they are face to face with people they lack the ability to communicate. Yes, there are trainings you can attend to, but you cannot just walked out from the room feeling confident and all. You have to re evaluate yourself on how you’re going to execute what you have learned. Not an overnight changes rather it takes weeks, months or even years to get acquainted.General ImplicationsIf the organization does not choose the people that suit the nature of the job best, the presence of those individuals might later have a dire implication on the organization. Dire implications for the company would generally include wastage of time, money and effort, since the HR department and the line managers would be wasting their time in the selection, orientation and training of such employees who do not fit the job completely. Therefore it is important for the organization to make sure what holds more importance to it, that is, the hard skills or the soft skills. Employees chosen for hard skills or soft skills should be perfectly suitable for the job in order for the organization to reap benefits that it deems for itself.For instance, a financial analysts may not required to be highly equipped with the talent of public speaking or customer service but then that’s not of importance to the job, since the job of the financial analyst requires far more hard skills than soft skills. However, a customer service representative needs to make sure that his or her appearance is presentable as it has the job description of dealing with people he or she has to make an everlasting impression on. Soft skills of public relations, communication and sales would be far more important in this case.Often is the question raised that why are soft skills required for an IT professional, some may argue that the core know-how of the technicalities are more important than having communication skills for an IT professional. The counter argument to which can be that technical know how may get a person to a status but in order to pursue further and excel in the professional world, it is important to have good communication and interpersonal skills. The probability of the IT person or a technical person using soft skills is far more than a lower level employee. The higher an employee in the hierarchy of the organization the more are the number of people he or she needs to communicate with. Therefore, it becomes imperative and essential that the person have better soft skills, along with technical skills. An HR department and the line manager need to ensure such skills in a person to be hired.Hence, both these qualities may impact the organization adversely if they are not assessed correctly in regard to the nature of the job and the organizational environment and requirement.Implications Particularly on the Employee and the EmployerThe reason that employers go for soft skills rather than hard skills is because hard skills if taught can be learnt in a relatively shorter period of time especially with hands on experience and training programs. However, it is very difficult to measure the implications of teachings of the soft skills. Hence, the employers have the perspective that soft skills should be present in the employee since the lack of hard skills can be taught via various means of on-job training.“And of course, there’s the valid issue that this type of training does NOT come in pill form. It’s not really possible to take a single dose and expect to see results. For soft skills to take hold they need constant practice and positive re-enforcement by the current manager in order for the behavior to become habitual. Training can only lay the foundation upon which to build a skill set, it cannot, because of it’s nature, be expected to provide an immediate cure” (Jager, P. 2005).Hence, the implication of shift from hard skills to soft skills on the employer has been with the rationale that soft skills are more in built in nature and cannot be inculcated, however hard skills can. Therefore, the employees should already posses the soft skills at recruitment in order to adjust to the employer’s demands. Soft skills in a candidate ensure his or her probability of success, since the better the soft skills in a person, the far more he or she can succeed since his or her ability to communicate and blend in with the organization is far more than other candidates. Additionally, this ensures success for the organization as well.The recent overvaluation of soft skills over the hard skills have paved way for those who are not so book smart but know the tactics to be street smart, while the people with mediocre communication, teamwork and flexibility skills are at a disadvantage despite of knowing their work properly. Hence, the implications on the employees of the shift have been dire on those who don’t possess the soft skills while beneficial for others.There has been a lot of debate on the possession of both the skills with choice required to be made between the two skills as “The problem is, it is unusual to find that desired blend of hard and soft skills” (Stuart. J, 2005).ConclusionHence, in order to attain the most deserving candidate, it is very important for the recruitment managers to strike a balance between the abilities which are required for the employee to survive in the professional world and the technical knowledge and expertise that is needed. As for now, the inclination towards soft skills have increased drastically which needs to be taken into account as the world might loose onto the deserving people who know what they are doing and how to do it.It would not be inappropriate to state that each skill has its own importance which should be given its due respect. Overemphasizing on one when the other is more important would do no good to the organization and would in fact end up affecting it adversely. Hence, both the skills should be weighed equally by the organization in order to strike a balance and achieve the most out of an individual’s capabilities.ReferencesGreen, M. (n.d.). Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills? Retrieved on 9th March 2007 from http://www.aptitude-testing.com/hrpeople.htmMcKenna, J. (n.d.). Employers Ramp Up Hiring – Job growth explodes in April. Retrieved on 10th March 2007 from http://www.kennacompany.com/articles/EmployersRampUpHiring.htmStuart, J. (2005). Hard Skills, Soft Skills. Retrieved on 11th March 2007 from http://www.customerservicemanager.com/hard-skills-soft-skills.htm

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