Think about this: 85% of job success is due to having well-developed soft skills, and only 15% is due to technical, or hard skills. This is from Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Center.
It amazes me that despite this research, organizations (and individuals) still tend to focus on developing hard skills. In 2010, employers spent $171.5 billion on employee training and only 27.6% of those training dollars went toward soft skills, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
It’s time to put more of our dollars and development efforts where they really count. In our increasingly global, dynamic and service-oriented way of working, organizations need leaders, teams and individual contributors who have the personal behaviors and interpersonal skills that will help them grow and thrive.
So what are those skills? In my work with organizations to create leadership and employee development initiatives, these are the 10 soft skills/behaviors (in alpha order) that leaders most often tell me they need in their people.
Collaboration – the ability to meld ideas and share credit with others.
Creativity – initiating new approaches to projects, solving problems, etc.
Effective communication – clear and concise speaking and writing paired with active listening.
Emotional intelligence – self-aware and sensitive to others, empathetic.
Flexibility – adaptable to change.
Growth mindset – recognizing they don’t know it all. Being willing to learn.
Leadership – the ability to lead, even without the title.
Reliability – do what you say you’re going to do by when you say you’re going to do it.
Resilience – the ability to continue pursuing the goal despite roadblocks and challenges.
Teamwork – sharing the work and supporting others toward a common goal.
Organizations who want to remain competitive and individuals who want to increase their marketability would do well to put more emphasis on identifying gaps in these skills and then creating a comprehensive development plan to close those gaps.
One of the best ways to identify gaps is through a behavioral assessment. The one I use with leaders, teams and individuals is Lumina Spark. Lumina Spark is a state-of-the-art psychometric assessment that provides a framework to help people achieve better self-awareness and learn how to improve their working relationships with others.
Check out the Lumina Spark fact sheet and then contact me to learn how PeopleThink can help your organization build its people capability.
Till next time,
There’s an old saying among recruiters and other hiring professionals – “Hire for attitude, train for skill.” Yet how many companies really do that? Look at any job description or posting and you’ll see plenty about the technical skills required and very little about the personal qualities or soft skills needed to succeed in the role.
This, despite the stat I talked about in my last blog – 85% of job success comes from soft skills, not hard skills.
The benefit of well-developed soft skills is borne out pretty quickly in an employee’s job tenure. A study by Leadership IQ, a research and training company, found that 46% of new hires will fail within their first 18 months. Why? Not because of a lack of technical skills, which only accounted for 11% of the failures, but because of their lack of soft skills.
According to the study, “26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions, 17% because they lack the necessary motivation to excel, 15% because they have the wrong temperament for the job.”
I say it’s time we rethink how we develop job descriptions and go about attracting and developing the right people for the right positions within our organizations. In addition to requiring that candidates have the right job-related skills, include the soft skills that will help the candidate succeed in the role. Then, in addition to creating questions around technical skills, train your hiring managers and other interviewers to ask well thought-out behavioral questions that will determine whether the candidate has the personal qualities and interpersonal skills that are needed for the job and to be a contributing member of the team.
Create a culture where the “soft skills” are valued as much or more than the “hard skills.” Review your learning and development strategy to ensure that employees have opportunities to build their capabilities in problem solving, innovation, emotional intelligence and other competencies that will help them succeed. Promote people to leadership roles not because they are the best at the function or have been there the longest, but because they demonstrate the personal qualities that will set the bar for the organization in creating the workforce for the future.
And, for those of you who are job seekers, take an inventory of your soft skills. Which of those skills have contributed most to your past success? Have you included them on your resume? Do you have specific examples of how you’ve leveraged those skills to achieve success in previous roles? What skills or behaviors do you need to work on to be ready for your target role/organization? What’s your plan for improving those skills and behaviors?
Till next time,
In the leadership development workshops I conduct I always include some kind of action planning at the end. After all, learning is a process not an event, and I think it’s important for participants to have some follow-through goals to continue that process. One of the activities I like to use is called: Stop, Start, Continue. I might ask, “Based on what you’ve learned about how you lead, and where your strengths and development areas are, what are you going to stop doing, start doing and continue doing?”
I think this is a good exercise for everyone to do periodically. And now that we’re nearly halfway through the year, I thought I would provide it to you as an opportunity to do a mid-year assessment and determine what’s working well that you need to continue, and where the gaps or issues are that point to behaviors that you need to start or stop.
Much of my work is focused on helping leaders and teams become more aware of their strengths, development areas and how they are perceived by others – how they “show up” on a normal day and on those days when they are under pressure or stressed out (no one has those days, right?) This knowledge, or self-awareness – contributes to better performance, improved communication, deeper relationships, and more overall success.
So here’s your assignment. Find a quiet place, grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a bottle of water or another beverage of choice, and think through the following.
What are your top 3 - 5 qualities? Think about things like purposeful, reliable, collaborative, imaginative, or any other qualities that have helped you succeed. How well are you using those qualities in your current role?
What are 3-5 “derailers” for you? These are those “overextended” behaviors that happen when you are stressed or under pressure. I like to think of them as “too much of a good thing.” For example, if you are evidenced-based on a good day, under stress you might get lost in the details; if you are spontaneous, when under pressure you may become impulsive; or if you are collaborative on a good day, when stressed you may be so focused on getting everyone’s opinion that you become consensus-obsessed.
Now, think over the last five months and write down one really great achievement – a situation when you just nailed it. And then write down a situation where you fell short of your expectations. What behaviors contributed to each?
Once you’ve thought through these items you’re ready to create your Stop, Start, Continue plan. Based on your review of the past five months, what’s one thing you’re going to stop doing, one thing you’re going to start doing, and one thing you’re going to continue doing? Write them down. Assign a date. And post your list somewhere you can refer to it often.
And whatever you do, DON’T stop believin’.
Till next time,
You’re in a job you like, you can do it almost on autopilot, and your performance reviews are stellar. No need to update your skills, right? Wrong!
Or…you’re in a job you hate, but, “it’s a job” and you’re so overworked or busy trying to keep that job that you have no time to even THINK about what’s next, let alone PREPARE for it. There’s just no way, right? Wrong!
Whether you like your job or hate it, keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date and preparing for what’s next is a must. Here’s a “get real” process to help you get started.
1. Conduct an inventory. Look at your last performance review. Make a list of both strengths and development areas. Then think about what you want to do next. If you are currently working and want to progress in your career path, what skills and knowledge are needed to get to the next level? Add these to your list. If you are looking for a new opportunity, what are the requirements of your target position? Which ones are you lacking? Add these to your list.
2. Create a personal development plan. Select one or two areas from step one that you will focus on in the next three months. Do some research to find resources to help you develop in those areas. Remember, learning doesn’t only occur in the classroom. Create specific development actions for each skill/knowledge area. Don’t forget to include target dates on your plan!
3. Execute the plan. Post your plan somewhere visible – your calendar, your refrigerator, your desktop. Stay focused! Concentrate on the one or two areas you’ve prioritized – don’t get distracted by the other areas on your inventory list. You can work on them in your next plan. Take a melting pot approach. Keep your eyes and ears open for articles, blogs by experts, presentations, webinars, etc. on your focus areas. Learning comes in many forms, from many places. Capture it! Be accountable and/or enlist someone’s help to keep you accountable. Reward yourself for completing your development goals.
4. Update your resume/personal “infomercial.” When you have gained proficiency in the skill/knowledge area, add it to your resume, if appropriate. Practice incorporating your new knowledge/skill into your interview discussions. Blend it into the evolving “you.”
5. Review, revisit, and revise the plan. Spend some time reviewing your plan and how it worked. Did you set reasonable goals? Were the resources worthwhile? Did you find additional/alternate ones you’ll use next time? Revisit your inventory. What are the skills/knowledge areas you’re going to work on next? Create and execute a revised personal development plan that reflects your new focus areas and development goals.
Putting a plan in place to continually add to your abilities and knowledge is an investment that will keep your market value on an upward trend. And…you never know when that golden opportunity will come along. Be prepared!
“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” - Chinese proverb
Till next time,
Statistics show that a lot more of us are beginning to think about moving on - to a new job, a new company or even a totally new career. Let me just say: Hold on a minute.
Before you begin your search for that next opportunity, set aside some time to TAKE INVENTORY. Get clear about who you are and what you want so YOU control your career rather than it controlling you. Think about what you bring to the table, what you like and don’t like, and what would be a fulfilling "next step."
Here are some areas to consider:
Skills. What are the skills and competencies that have helped you succeed in your career so far? Which of them are transferable skills that will help you contribute regardless of industry or position? Write them all down.
Values. What are the things you MUST have in a company, a position, a leader to be happy and do your best? What motivates you?
Natural talents. What are those innate abilities that keep coming up in compliments and performance reviews? “You’re a natural at…” Fill in the blank.
Interests. What do you like to do? Think large on this one. You never know when an interest you haven’t really focused on so far may lead to a new opportunity…
Job Satisfiers. Or, as I like to call them, “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” What are the factors that have made your past work situations rewarding (the good), boring or frustrating (the bad) or something you never want to repeat (the ugly)?
Barriers. Here’s where you really need to “get real.” What are those internal blocks that have kept you from being all you want to be? Write ‘em down. Recognizing them is the first step in eliminating them.
Key accomplishments. Think back over your career and other areas of your life. What have you done that made a difference for your team, your department, your company, your community?
Salary requirements. In today’s job market, this is often one of the first questions asked, so it’s good to start thinking about this early. Consider what your basic expectations are and then, when you’ve determined your target market, do some research to validate your expectations.
Completing these inventories will take some time. However, you will be amazed at how much you’ll learn about yourself, and how the resulting personal career snapshot will guide you to “what’s next.”
Want to know more about how to “Get Real” about your career? Check out our online guide.
Whatever you do, don’t stop believin’.
Till next time,
This whether you are currently employed or among the many who are “between opportunities,” keeping your skills and knowledge current and relevant can mean the difference between moving ahead and lagging behind.
What’s next for you? Is there a promotion you’ve set your sights on, or a job that’s just slightly out of reach? Now is the time to “get real” and put a plan in place to increase your skills and knowledge, improve your marketability, and build your confidence. Here’s a 5-Step Plan to get you going.
1. Take inventory. Get a piece of paper and make a list of your strengths and your development areas. Think about what you want to do next. Do some research to determine the skills and knowledge required to get you there. Is there anything you’re currently lacking? Add it to the list. Is there a certification or license required that you haven’t earned yet? Add it to the list.
2. Create a personal development plan. Determine which of the skills/knowledge you’ve identified in step one will most contribute to you successfully attaining your next career goal. Select one or two you will focus on in the next three months. Seek out resources that will help you develop in those areas – classes, a coach, book learning, volunteer opportunities. Create specific development actions for each skill/knowledge area. Commit to paper a plan that includes:
1. Skill/knowledge to develop/enhance
3. Target completion date
3. Execute the plan. Post your plan somewhere visible – your calendar, your desk, your refrigerator. Stay focused! Concentrate on the one or two areas you’ve prioritized – don’t get distracted by the other areas on your inventory list. Take a “melting pot” approach. Keep your eyes and ears open for articles, blogs by experts, presentations, webinars, etc., related to your focus areas. Learning comes in many forms, from many places. Capture it! Be accountable and/or enlist someone’s help to keep you accountable. Reward yourself for completing your development goals.
4. Update your resume/personal “infomercial.” When you’ve gained proficiency in the skill/knowledge area, add it to your resume, if appropriate. Practice incorporating your new knowledge/skill into your interview discussions. Blend it into the evolving “you.”
5. Review, revisit and revise the plan. How did your plan work? Did you set reasonable goals? Were the resources worthwhile? Did you find additional or alternate ones you’ll use next time? Revisit your inventory. What are the skills/knowledge areas you’re going to work on next? Create and execute a revised personal development plan that reflects your new focus areas and goals.
Too often when we’ve “got the job” we become complacent and/or too busy to think about what’s next and prepare for it. Putting a plan in place to continually add to your abilities and knowledge will keep your market value on an upward trend.
And remember: Don’t stop believing!!
Till next time,