Soft skills are the personal attributes that one needs to interact with customers and colleagues and succeed in the work environment. These are different from hard skills that may be defined as specific knowledge and abilities which are needed for specific jobs. Hard skills are easy to quantify and measure when compared to soft skills which are relatively difficult to measure. One can gain hard skills through education and training, continuous professional development and certifications. Soft skills include listening, empathy and communication and interpersonal skills among other skills.
It is important that all prospective employees have soft skills. The reason for this is that all jobs require employees to engage with either their colleagues or with customers, suppliers and creditors among other stakeholders. Soft skills help in mediating the interaction that one has with other people to ensure that there is proper communication and understanding. The other reason why soft skills are important is that they are transferrable and can be used at whichever job or circumstance that is facing an individual.
The meaning of this is that persons with soft skills are more adaptable. Soft skills are acquired over a period of time as opposed to hard skills which are acquired in class training or educational setup. Individuals with soft skills are therefore seen as people who have unique backgrounds that can help improve the diversity of an organization and ensure that it is better run and managed. Soft skills are especially important in organizations that deal directly with customers. This is because the careful application of soft skills can help improve customer perception about the organization thereby influencing the purchasing behavior of the customers (Bortz, 2018).
Some of the most important soft skills that are needed include communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving, critical observation, conflict resolution and leadership skills. Communication skills are needed while interacting with colleagues and customers. They can help boost performance because through communication one can extract expectations from managers and colleagues. Teamwork skills are needed to ensure that employees work towards a common goal. Team work skills can be learned through helping others in their role or covering for colleagues.
Adaptability skills are needed in order to improve creativity of employees so that they face some of the complex challenges in their work environments. Employees need to be flexible when faced with problems. Adaptability can be learned by employees being dynamic in their thoughts and not sticking to the usual way of doing things. Problem solving skills are needed to handle problems or circumstances that may go wrong within the organization. Problem solving skills can be gained by an employee always approaching the boss with a solution and not constantly whining about problems in the organization.
Critical observation skills are needed while evaluating data in order to determine the trends that emerge during data analysis. Due to the modern challenges and increased competition, companies need critical thinkers and observers to help develop a fresh perspective. Critical observation skills can be gained by one analyzing information and putting it into meaningful use (Bortz, 2018).
Conflict resolution skills are needed to mediate and create peace between colleagues. Conflict resolution skills can be obtained by quickly handling disagreements in an objective manner. Both parties should be able to bring out their grievances and then the mediator should help them find a solution to the grievances.
Leadership skills are needed to build confidence and vision that can inspire co-workers and bring them onboard with ideas. Leadership involves inspiring other people and helping them develop a common vision and understanding about the future. This can be gained through learning from other people (Bortz, 2018).