Over 165 countries have become the members of the World Trade Organization, tariff and non-tariff barriers are being phased out. Domestic companies have risen to the level of multinational companies and few have further grown to the level of global companies. Every employer accord thrust on productivity, which is possible through customer care, customer satisfaction and finally customer delight. In an endeavor to keep the customers delighted, companies focus on human development index. Today’s job market is highly competitive and complex. To be a successful in the tough environment, the employers look forward to have candidates having competitive edge. It is needless to state that the human resources are plenty; therefore candidates with similar qualification are available in excess of the jobs. Employers therefore prefer to hire candidates for the job who are highly productive, right at the early stage. It is true that candidates have acquired hard skill either through their formal education or during the course of operation on the job. Many candidates having talking skill have literally stumbled in the interview, hence they lose opportunities. No doubt good communication is one of the ingredients that every candidate needs to possess. Over and above, the traits like courtesy, honesty, flexibility, common sense, etc. equally matters which convince the employer stating that the candidate will be vibrant and thereby an asset in the company. In fact many leading companies at the global level have reported in various forums that soft skills are an imperative need, without which the companies may crumble. Soft skills include personal traits and habits.
Developed countries such as USA, Russia, Germany, France, China, Japan, etc. could see remarkable growth in their operations, thanks to the soft skills. Many global companies in developing countries have given preference to the soft skill; therefore they are also rising at par with their counterpart companies in developed nations.
After reading the paper, learners will be able to-
- Demonstrate their communication skills such that it can satisfy the stakeholders.
- Apply their critical way of thinking in the task assigned
- Solve the problems through the palatable skills
- Ease out anxiety while discharging the assigned task
- Execute the task within the time prescribed for the purpose with etiquette and good manners
- Get along with other members in the team and make them work in group
- Project that are important than the concerned employee, maintain good interpersonal relationship throughout the task
- Follow ethics in the work optimally
Meaning and Definition
Before we understand the significance of soft skills, perhaps it is important to know about what the soft skills are. It is difficult to answer the question, because the perception of the soft skill varies from context to context. A subject may be considered as a soft skill in one particular area and may be considered hard skill in another. Training in cultural awareness might be useful for a chemist but it is absolutely important for public of diverse culture.
The online encyclopedia “Wikipedia” defines soft skill as “the cluster of personality traits, social graces, and facility with language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism which mark people to varying degrees. Soft skill complements hard skills which are the technical requirements of a job”. (Wikipedia 2007)
From the above definition it is very clear that the soft skills involve personality traits which revolves around communication skill, problem solving skills, creativity, team work capability, time conscious, friendliness, etiquette and good mannerism, courtesy, empathy, ethics in work, responsibility and urge to accomplish the target.
What are soft skills ?
As already stated, the soft skills possessed by the employees make the companies vibrant and productive in the competitive arena. Human development index in developing countries clearly indicate that the people lack soft skill, therefore the status is helter-schelter. Many companies have already passed on remarks to the State about the relevance of the soft skill. The countries in turn have beefed up their efforts to impart education on soft skills at various levels.
Soft skills are like the axle on which the wheel of interpersonal skills rotates. They are at the core of successful communication which leads to strong employee commitment and good team work with high morale. Now let’s understand some important soft skills that everyone needs to possess.
- Communication Skill:Good communication apparently creates an impression that he/she is on the track. Stakeholders really appreciate good communication which may be written and oral. The choice of words, phrases, body language, and tone of speaking reflects about the communication. As far as body language is concerned, posture, head motion, facial expression, eye contact, gestures, paralanguage, silence, listening, etc. really matters by which the positive and negative trait of the candidate can be understood. Candidates who are able to communicate excellent in the interview will always have an edge over others.
- Common Sense: It is one of the most important soft skills. It is the basic ability that enables to make use of five senses by which one can take a right decision. Common sense is the power which exists with most of the population but the degree varies. Some people may be more comprehensive in their way of thinking and make split second decisions using their knowledge in tight situations while others may not be able to do so. There is no formal teaching of common sense, yet people can acquire it by learning, so that they can use common sense in the right direction. Common sense generally alerts to tolerate the fault or mistake committed by others.
- Stress Management:People work under stress which may be either the family related or work related. If they are unable to manage stress, it will have its own bearing, not only on the person concerned but also on the job. Stress produces numerous physical and mental symptoms which vary according to each individual`s situational factors. These can include physical health decline as well as depression. Realizing the problem of the stress and its impact on the individual and also the company, employer makes an attempt to conduct the interview under stress. Candidates having the knowledge and skill of the stress management may fair better than others.The process of stress management definitely leads to happy and successful life in modern society. Behavioral scientists teach stress management techniques which include daily exercise routine, spending quality time with family and pets, meditation, finding a hobby, writing their thoughts, feelings, and moods down and also speaking with a trusted one about what is bothering. The people who are able to manage stress effectively can accomplish the task even in complex situation.
- Time Management:People who spend time judiciously can contribute to the effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. People have to prioritize the work classifying which is important and which is not. Time management helps people to deal with some common challenges such lateness, dead time and interruptions. Punctuality and discipline are the essence of it. Leading companies impart skills of time management which throws light upon prioritization, scheduling and focus. Many companies use time tracking software to track an employee’s working time, as such people have to value time and execute the work to promote the quality and excellence besides productivity.Learning to manage time will reward the concerned in better career. People who fail in time management obviously will be given pink slip.
- Leadership Skills: Any organization or a task without good leaders will find itself struggling to achieve the set target.Good leaders take the company or task forward to greater heights. Leadership skill cannot be learnt instantaneously but through learning and observation. It is desirable for the person concerned to understand various theories of leadership, be autocrat, democrat, laissez faire, etc. Depending upon on the situation, one has to adopt the values of the concerned theory and take the company to a greater height. As a true leader, one has to motivate, inspire and move people to action. Further good leaders employ emotional intelligence, crisis management and contingency planning to address any kind of problem which may emanate at any time. As already stated, leadership skills will be imparted at the work place than that of the formal education.
- Conflict Resolution:Human resources are the animate factors; therefore they have likes and dislikes, dissatisfaction and disagreement at the work place. The differences between the employee and employee, and the employee and employer are not uncommon. It is the responsibility of the concerned to diagnose the problem and offer solution which otherwise situation may escalate and may further go beyond control, which may hit the productivity overtly and covertly. The people who have the ability of addressing the conflict can be a successful person on a right job so that the organisation concerned can make stupendous growth.
- Team Work:The success of many organisations largely depends on the contribution of team. Teamwork is present in any context where a group of people are working together to achieve a common goal.It is a well-known fact that no employee can work in isolation, therefore the team. Members of a team work like the organs of the human body. Progress of the team depends on proper coordination and cooperation. It is the responsibility of every member of the team to develop right temperament and each one of them should feel that others are important than that of he/she. Further members of the team should be good listeners and develop a harmonious relationship with others.Teams need to be able to leverage resources to be productive.The level of teamwork and interdependence can vary. Mentoring, a part of training and development, focus more on team work.
- Creativity:In the wake of globalization, the companies will not survive unless their human resources are creative. Creativity correlates with intelligence and psychotism. Creativity can help growth, innovation and speed. It is a trait which can help for idea generation by way of fluency, originality, incubation and illumination. Personality which breeds curiosity and tolerance, confidence; help in producing, sharing and implementing the new idea. Organisations which focus more on creativity of the human resources can find innumerable ways to produce goods and services to keep the customers delighted.Creativity can be encouraged in people and professionals and in the workplace. It is essential for innovation, and is a factor affecting economic growth and businesses.Creativity may be taught as a part of education. Promoting intrinsic motivation and problem solving are two areas where educators can foster creativity in students.Teaching students to solve problems which do not have defined answers is a way to foster their creativity. As far as the companies are concerned, trustworthy employees will be encouraged to generate new ideas through research and development.
- Empathy:The top companies at the global level have made a splendid performance thanks to the empathy on the part of leaders or employers. It is the responsibility of the employer to impart the employees to be empathetic. Empathy denotes caring for other people and making less distinct the differences between the self and others. Compassion and sympathy are the terms associated with empathy. Empathy is a human trait which starts with listening more and talking less. Employees concerned have to lend good hearing to others and understand the complexity in their issues based on which proper decisions can be taken up to resolve the problems of the employee concerned. The employers who are not empathetic may not able to retain even talented employees which may affect badly. Empathetic work environment leads to better learning and good performance as employees are not afraid to fail and learn from their mistake.
- Etiquette and Good Mannerism: Etiquette is a set of conventional rules of personal behavior, politely by following ethical code. The purpose of etiquette is to facilitate the social relations necessary for realizing the business transactions of buying and selling goods and services; in particular, the social interactions among the workers, and between labor and management. Business etiquette varies by culture. The organisation concerned has to train personnel about the social skills. The employees who possess standardized manners can conduct the business very effectively. The personnel need to be courteous, polite and patient while dealing with the customers. The organisation having employees with etiquette and mannerism can build relationship of mutual good will and friendliness which can ensure sustainability.
- Flexibility:The organisation which believes in Kaizen can achieve success perpetuatingly.The employees working in the organizations concerned have to go for adoption and adaptation to cope with the changes in the business world. Whenever the organisation wants to go for changes, they have to invite suggestions which may include criticism also. The employees who have the ability of making suggestions will develop the companies and make it survive even at critical stages.The organisation which do not encourage the employee to come out with criticism or suggestions, may fail miserably in the competitive arena. It is therefore the responsibility of the people to come out with valuable suggestions to make the organisations stronger.
- Work Ethics: Work ethics is a set of values centered on importance of work and manifested by determination or desire to work hard. A work ethic is a set of moral principles a person uses in their job. People who possess a strong work ethic embody certain principles that guide their work behavior, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently and the output motivates them to stay on track. A good work ethic fuels an individual`s needs and goals; it is related to the initiative by a person for the objectives. It is considered as a source of self-respect, satisfaction, and fulfillment.Work ethics includes getting things done, focusing on quality, being vigilant and organized and aiming at success.
Significance of Soft Skills
Soft skills are important for the following reasons:
- Today’s job market is highly competitive, the candidates needs to have competitive edge which can be through soft skills
- Soft skills contribute to the productivity at the early stage
- Soft skill ensure effective communication so that the message can reach properly
- It can reduce stress of the employees and avoid the negative impact on the organisation.
- It promotes creativity which is the imperative need to cope with the challenges in the dynamic business
- It will help maintain interpersonal relationship thereby conflict can be minimized.
- It focuses more on quality first and customers foremost.
- By executing the task within the time, the cost overrun can be avoided.
- It inspires employees to make a decision even at a time when the company passes through critical stages.
Why employers prefer candidates having soft skill?
- Employer accord focus on productivity and sustainability, for this purpose, they rely more on soft skills in addition to hard skills
- The aim of the organisation is undoubtedly to produce goods or render services to the end users. Hard skill alone is not sufficed to create a brand image of the product or service; therefore soft skill is preferred.
- Conflict among the employees sometimes ruins the organisations concerned. Soft skills possessed by the employees can avert such crisis.
- Three mantras of globalization comprises of quality, time and cost. The organisation concerned has to attain stupendously with the help of soft skills of the employees.
- The supply of human resources are more than the demand; therefore employer look forward to have candidates having competitive edge over other candidates, although they have possessed homogenous quality and standards of formal education. Candidates having competitive edge invariably possess the soft skill.
- Companies once domestic have reached the status of global companies, with the help of soft skills.
- Soft skills shape human personality; therefore they are very conscious in the work assigned and execute it within the time.
- Empathy is a part of the soft skill which makes employees / candidates to understand about the feeling of others than that of themselves. Feeling of others invariably reduces friction among employees.
Strategies adopted by the employer to promote soft skill
- Selection is the process of elimination but not that of evaluation. Employers have an opportunity to eliminate the candidates who are lacking soft skills especially during interview.
- Employers may impress upon the educational institutions through interface and advise them to adopt soft skill as a part of curriculum.
- Confederation of industry can communicate the concerned department both at the State and Center to focus soft skill to be taught to the students in the formal education.
- The organisations can harness the hired employees in their own system of training and development, giving emphasis on soft skills
- The representatives of the organisation can visit the educational institutions and throw light upon the significance of the soft skill. They can also communicate to them effectively as to why many candidates will fail in the interview process by explaining the expectations of the industry and the actual skills of the students.
Initiatives undertaken to accelerate soft skill
- Education empowers people with knowledge and skill. On the one hand, growth rate of higher education is increasing overwhelmingly. On the other hand, the rate of unemployment is increased alarmingly.
- High power committee constituted by the Government impress upon the government about re-visiting the curricula giving focus on soft skills. In developed countries, soft skill is a part of the formal education system in which students have to gain the requisite knowledge and skill without which they will not get the credit.
- Realizing the importance of the soft skills in various industries, MHRD has given directions to all educational institutions of higher education to focus on soft skill which can shape the personality of the students.
- In response to the directions of University Grants Commission, AICTE, Indian Medical Council and other regulatory bodies, all the universities in the country demonstrated their vigor to train their students with soft skills. In fact the personality development and soft skill is a subject being taught under choice-based credit system to all students irrespective of the streams that they have chosen for their degree.
- Today soft skill is not confined to only software industry but various other sectors such as hospitality and tourism, health services, telecommunication, education, rural development, finance and insurance, aviation, defence including internal security.
- Students can also learn soft skills either by attending the coaching / training center or through self-study.
Developed countries have achieved significant growth in their economy, thanks to the soft skill adopted in various sectors. Soft skill is a part of the formal education system; therefore the gap of demand for and supply of candidates for job is bridged effectively. In developing countries like India, the mismatch is apparent so many candidates have been having excellent track record in the formal education stumble in the process of selection. Leading companies in India have already impressed upon the government to internalize the soft skill at the level of education itself. The regulatory bodies of higher education have given directives to the universities and colleges to train their students with soft skill no matter what the stream is. Lack of professionals in the educational institutions is considered to be a bane for the effective implementation of soft skill and personality development. The government has to take note of it and pump the requisite fund to fill the vacuum of professionals of soft skills.