“Soft skills” is an umbrella concept for everything that is not a measurable technical skill. Offering a short explanation, the term is generally used to describe someone’s ability to navigate their social environment, work well with others, and, in having these skills, achieve their career goals.
Examples of soft skills include a person’s communication skills, their willingness to be flexible, their integrity and honesty. Furthermore, soft skills can include interpersonal abilities, having a positive attitude, taking responsibility, thriving in in a team, and having a good work ethic.
The intangibility of soft skills is what puts them in stark opposition to hard skills. Hard skills are measurable, often rather technical, skills. These include math, accounting, writing, or programming skills. However, both types of skills are fundamental for success and complement each other perfectly.
The combination of hard skills and soft skills is what makes a well-rounded person, that can progress in their private and professional life equally. What is a well-educated colleague worth if they do not get along with the team?
Developing your soft skills has therefore become indispensable at the workplace, and there are studies to support that claim.
A study conducted by Harvard University noted that 80% of career performance is determined by soft skills and only 20% by hard skills. Similarly, a study among fortune 500 CEOs conducted by the Stanford Research Institute found that 75% of your long-term job success are a direct result of soft skills.
Experts recommend that soft skills training should thus form an integral part of education. This prepares students for what is expected of them at their future workplace.
Not mastering those soft skills can have unwanted consequences. A survey conducted by McDonald's in the UK predicts that more than half a million people will be held back from job sectors by 2020 due to a lack of soft skills.
Soft skills are just as important as, if not more important than, technical skills. Most interactions with people require some level of soft skills – negotiating a new contract, presenting a new business idea, interviewing for a new job. Soft skills are the means by which a person sells their technical skills.
Devoting time to the teaching and development of soft skills is therefore a valuable investment in the future of learners. It might even be what sets them apart from other people in their field.
At Inchainge, special attention is paid to soft skills. With our focus on experiential learning and education, fostering soft skills through teamwork and social learning is an essential part of what we do.
In using our business simulations games, the participants often need to collaborate for the greater good of the team. If the participants want their virtual companies to thrive, they must work together on realizing a common goal. In order to be successful, the participants need to have clear communication, a smart division of responsibilities, and a lot of flexibility.
With a strategy in mind, the participants need to align their decision-making in their own functional areas. This while making sure that everyone contributes equally to the company’s success. At the same time, the participants are faced with trade-offs that exist within their own role, but especially across roles.
The most important soft skills at the workplace can therefore be narrowed down to communication, teamwork, leadership, and responsibility.