In today’s competitive world there is a race for survival and only the best are able to make it ahead of the others in this race. Well the race I am talking about here is not a running race, but the race to make good careers. Everybody has an aim in life, we all have objectives, the survival instinct and all of us want to make it high in our careers. Hence we set out to acquire the best of technical skills by choosing a good college or university and the course we would like to specialize in. For example if I want to qualify as a doctor and make a career as one, I would plan and work towards it by studying hard and getting good grades. I would certainly try to make it into the premier schools for medicine like Yales, John Hopkins etc. Assuming I make it there and emerge as a doctor, is my battle won? It has only begun as there would be umpteen number of such doctors. So mainly acquiring technical skills is not enough. I need the extra bit to make an impact and this extra bit is soft skills which is what most employers seek and which would take us ahead. The possession of mere technical skills would appear to an employer as incomplete even if we are able to answer all the technical questions put to us during an interview. It is soft skills which make us into a complete presentable professional. Now what are the soft skills needed?
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are the basic skills one needs to communicate with people, interact with people and coordinate with colleagues effectively to meet targets. We are not alone in this world but a part of huge communities and sub-communities, our workplace being one such sub-community. We cannot produce anything of value unless we learn the art of effective communication and interaction with our seniors, our juniors and our fellow team members. If we are not able to communicate our ideas, we cannot discuss future targets with our fellow team members and seniors. We cannot work alone and finish all the work ourselves; in fact, we must work in a team, do our job, train our juniors and learn to follow the instructions of our seniors. We must be able to discuss our plan of action with team members. This is called communication skills which help is to work as a good team player. If we are not in tandem with our team members and colleagues we will be left far behind. For example if Tom works in the accounts department of a multinational company performing the role of an accounts executive he has his job cut out. If he fails to meet his target or does his job inefficiently then the accounts will not be finalized and his entire department would suffer when auditing is done. His failure could be because of a valid reason for his recent sickness. In such a case had he communicated his situation to his team members, or had trained his juniors to fill in, then he would not have had a problem as the job would have been completed on time. So interaction with others and developing a rapport with colleagues is most important in developing communication skills.
Good communication skills begin with exchanging pleasantries, extending basic courtesies, introducing ourselves to others and making an effort to reach out to them. A greeting first thing in the morning with a smile can do wonders as it serves as a good platform for the future. Next, we must learn to share ideas and discuss issues concerning our job so that our team members know our strengths and weaknesses. The ability to rise above the bar and help others is another effective way of creating a rapport. We must learn to handle pressure and also be eager to step in when an extra bit is needed like learning new things so that we can help complete someone else’s job in case such a situation arises. Supporting one another is the way of becoming a good team player. If we take the example of our favorite cricket team winning a cricket match it will be because of the combined team effort as both batsmen and bowlers performed well.
Multitasking and time management
Multitasking and time management are two very important aspects of soft skills. We often have a lot to do to meet targets and unless we prioritize and execute according to priority and available time we will seldom be able to complete our job. This would add to the pressure. Hence to avoid such pressure situations we need to multitask and manage our time properly. The important tasks which have a deadline need to be executed first. If we once again take Tom’s example here we can understand this better. If Tom’s boss has a presentation to make the very next day and needs urgent data from Tom, then Tom needs to set aside his other tasks and first provide the data to his boss as he has a deadline to meet here. Every job has an order of priority and one must understand that order and go about the job in an organized fashion.
Following the company’s Core Values and being ethical
Every company has core values which they expect each and every employee to adhere. Hence must one make an effort to research the company’s website and get to know these values and imbibe them so that our thinking is in line with the company’s values. Honesty is indeed the best policy as sincerity and ethics are two values which will always be sought after by any employer.
Being a good team player
Learning to be a good team player is the next important skill one must possess. We must learn to cooperate with others and act accordingly as per the need of the hour and changed situations. We must be willing to step in when our colleague is not around. No work should be left pending. Coordination and cooperation with others thus make us a good team player. Once we become a good team player we can be assured of similar cooperation from teammates also.
Training our juniors, and learning from our seniors are also very important qualities to follow. In our absence, our juniors may fulfill our task. Learning from seniors will improve our level of work as we gain valuable experience.
These qualities do come out when one faces an interview. The result is always positive when one shows these soft skills in addition to technical skills. Soft skills play a very important role in getting business where professionals offering certain services are concerned. Take for instance a dentist. If I develop a toothache I would certainly choose a dentist who is kind and smiling and takes the effort to explain the procedure to me, sensing my fear and insecurities about the extraction procedure. I would definitely not be comfortable going to a curt dentist even if he is the best in terms of skills.
This is the significance of developing soft skills. Developing these soft skills is hence the passport to a good progressive career.