Are Soft Skills Important?

May 1, 2009

I get invitations to speak to people in the corporate world all the time.

I smile a little whenever HR people say, “Francis, we feel there is a need for us to train our people on “soft skills.” Others would brand it as “values training.”

The question is: “Are soft skills training necessary?”

When it comes to soft skills, most people think they are all about those warm-and-fuzzy people skills. While hard skills refer to the technical ability and the factual knowledge needed to do the job. However you define them, soft skills still suffer from a fundamental lack of respect. After all, how could anything described as “SOFT” be valued in the hard-charging, results-driven business world or impact the bottom line?

Are soft skills important?

Some people think that people are just born with them but training people to have them is not critical for corporate success.

This is like saying Yo-Yo Ma is a great musician solely because of his genes and that disciplined study and practice, collaboration with ensembles, making sound career decisions, taking risks, developing and promoting his brand, dealing with conductors, and connecting with his audience are not important?

But the good news is that more and more companies realize that there is nothing soft about soft skills.

The lack of teamwork. Poor communication skills. Bad attitude and behavior. Dissension and rebellion. Resistance to change. The lack of leadership skills that impedes a good corporate succession plan…….all contribute to high corporate turnover. But astute corporate execs realize that these are soft skills issues that have to be addressed. And thus they aggressively pursue “Soft-Skills training.”

Book author Peggy Klaus says: “Research, conducted with Fortune 500 CEOs by the Stanford Research Institute International and Carnegie Mellon Foundation, found that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25% on technical knowledge. Another study of headhunters hiring CEOs ranked the ability to communicate and motivate as necessary attributes for positively affecting the bottom line. And when they do provide these soft-skills training, the programs are often exclusively reserved for “high-potential” employees or senior executives.

A survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that although MBAs were strong in analytical aptitude, quantitative expertise, and information-gathering ability, they were sorely lacking in other critical areas that employers find equally attractive: strategic thinking, written and oral communication, leadership, and adaptability. Increasing workplace and customer diversity across age, gender, racial, and ethnic lines – along with business globalization and virtual offices – have only heightened the need for strengthening soft skills competency.”

So here’s my question now.

How strong is your company’s “Soft-skills training?”

Is your company suffering from high turn-over?

Good people do not leave good companies. Good people leave lousy managers. And why is this so? Because the soft skills may not be there.

When you apply the same principle to the home front you will also realize that training our children on the IQ ability is important. But them values training is even more important. In fact it is essential.

The truth behind soft skills it that there is nothing soft about them. The skills are essential for the well being and success initiative of companies if they were to survive the harsh competition of the 21st century.

While processes are commoditized because most companies with money already have them. The one and only competitive edge you will have is for your people to out perform and out behave your competitors so they can secure long term growth initiatives. Companies pay good money to hire talented people. But companies need to train these talented people to become better in character.

Never forget. Talent is a gift but character is a choice. Train your people to make the right choices!

Who can ascend to the hill of The Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart says The Word of God.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Pam Miguel-Calos

    I can relate to one of your topic sentences in this article: Good peple do not leave good companies. Good people leave lousy managers. I left my former company (mutlinational financing company) in 2004 knowing in my heart and mind that this was the very reason for doing so but back then, I wan’t able to clarify this into these very words. That company has had a serious high personnel turnover on the managerial level. Separations were bitter more often than not. Precisely as you put it, soft skills was never treated as important as technical ones, or it was never an issue back then. Sadly, I’ve learned that the company closed in 2008.
    I am also reminded of your article by relating it to Stephen Covey’s habit called sharpening the saw. If we don’t recognize that we are “magaspang” or “mapurol”, altitudes we will pursue might well end up just flying like a barn yard hen. We should look past personality because attitutude molds character.

  2. Kurt P. Dabalos

    Great piece Bro Francis! I also believe that it should start with the leaders. If the leaders will be exemplary, most of the subordinates will respect and follow them. Thus being able to achieve the firm’s goal.

  3. Maey D. Jose

    I agree, that in today’s world i’d rather have my children to improve more on EQ rather than IQ.

  4. gideon c. alcaide

    is it possible for someone to be an expert in soft skills but not as much in technical aspects? if it’s possible, does this kind of persons have a chance to succeed?

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