The debate between hard and soft skills is age-old.
Many people in possession of hard skills tend to look down upon the relevance of soft skills, only to discover the truth at a critical juncture in their career.
What is a hard skill?
A skill that can typically be quantified and measured is considered to be a hard skill. Programming, mathematical ability can be considered as examples. They can also be developed through a regimen of coursework and practice.
What is a soft skill?
While people have tried, and measures created, a soft skill is considered to be difficult to measure and quantify. Empathy could be considered as a soft skill. Soft skills are famously difficult to develop even though many programmes and courses have been created with a view to developing employee soft skills. They are typically slow to develop, and when they do, it is mostly as a response to life situations and experiences.
Why soft skills are important
Hard skills being measurable and well defined, in a competitive world, all participants make an effort to upgrade them and be among the best. What this results in is a lack of differentiation on the basis of hard skills. It is becoming something like a commodity. Everyone has them. How does a professional differentiate himself/herself from the crowd? Or, how does an organisation differentiate between employees? Or, with comparable hard skills, what enables an individual or organisation to perform better than others? Right, through soft skills. Employees possessing soft skills and organisations recognizing their need will have an edge over their lesser soft-skilled competitors.
As we have seen, hard skills, if absent or deficient, can be developed through the right strategies. Hence, increasingly, modern organizations are less concerned about the deficiency of hard skills required for a role, as they know they can be developed. Soft skills, on the other hand, either being difficult to develop, or the process being slow, are seen as more critical to be present in employees. Hence, even though difficult and less precise, organisations are making greater efforts to evaluate the soft skills of target hires to ensure that they have the goods to be effective in their situation. If a person is hired with inadequate soft skills, upskilling could be an uphill task.
Established staffing companies, such as Ushankk, who have worked with multiple employers over several decades, understand the importance of soft skills and ensure candidates they provide possess the right balance of hard and soft skills.
What soft skills to focus on
While the list of required soft skills is endless, in a workplace situation, here are some that assume greater relevance:
All work gets done through people. Even where machines are doing the work, somewhere there is a human hand either in its creation or in monitoring its performance. For two people to work together harmoniously, it is important to understand each other, not only in terms of the spoken or written words, but also from their unique perspectives. In other words, the ability to place oneself in another’s shoes is called empathy.
Almost everything gets done as a result of our ability to communicate. While verbal and written communication is what is mostly used, there are many other ways in which communication takes place. A nod of the head or a roll of the eyes can be communication. Making someone wait for a meeting can be communication. And it is not merely the ability to transfer your message effectively to another person that is communication; it is also your ability to interpret the messaging directed towards you.
Selfishness might be a necessary skill at times, especially when one is in a dangerous situation. However, organizations are anything but. They require quite the opposite skill, that of selflessness. One needs to be able to identify with the larger organisational goal and direct one’s energies towards its attainment, rather than the focus narrowing down to one’s own goals. As they say, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
To ensure you get the right balance of skills, trust IT outsourcing companies like Ushankk. Their exposure to multiple client requirements and work environments enables them to offer best-practice based solutions.