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Why Effective Soft Skills Matter in All Organizations

Why Effective Soft Skills Matter in All Organizations

Start an information technology degree program at American Public University.

By Dr. Novadean Watson-Stone
Program Director, Information Technology, American Public University

If you comb the Internet, speak to a variety of workers and check most industries, you will find there is a loud demand for soft skills. Unlike hard skills, which include job-specific knowledge, expertise and experiences, soft skills are interpersonal. They involve multiple skills, such as:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-control
  • Leadership
  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Team building
  • Collaboration
  • Time management
  • Maintaining focus
  • Conflict resolution
  • Adaptability
  • Persistence

Effective Soft Skills Start with Positive Workplace Relationships

Exercising effective soft skills starts with the ability to create and promote positive relationships with individuals and groups in the workplace.

All employees in an organization need to demonstrate results-driven soft skills. They make the difference when employees execute and support corporate strategies and goals using tactical and operational measures.

Many executives contend that the soft skills that people use in an organization have a vital impact on that organization’s culture, effectiveness and overall productivity.

For example, Forbes contributor Jan Bruce reported that a “major coalition of businesses, policy experts, trade groups and academics are demonstrating that soft skills—specifically interpersonal skills, the ability to manage and control your emotions, communication skills, leadership, adaptability and problem solving — are critical.”

In fact, a 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that when participants were asked, “What are the most important skills needed to succeed in the workplace of the future,” most of them cited soft skills.

Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson of the Pew Research Center explained that many of the respondents who mentioned the value of soft skills “also noted that they are difficult to teach and difficult to evaluate in a clear-cut, objective manner in any setting, and a majority of these people said today’s MOOCs [massive open online courses] are not as effective as real-world settings in cultivating them.”

How to Develop Soft Skills

How can you develop soft skills in the workplace? Start by developing the ability to:

  1. Lead with the attitude of self-confidence and focus, while exercising self-awareness, good self-concept and self-control.
  2. Exercise empathy and active listening to show you care for others.
  3. Use purposeful verbal and non-verbal communication skills; think before you speak.
  4. Promote and demonstrate keen teamwork and collaboration needed to resolve conflicts and find solutions to the problem.
  5. Take initiatives to think critically and negotiate “win-win” results while you keep others’ interests in mind.
  6. Complete assigned tasks in a timely manner as you adapt to changes.
  7. Get along with people, show respect and build professional relationships.

Employers want excellent employees with hard skills, but who are also well versed in soft skills. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

About the Author

Dr. Watson-Stone is currently the program director for the graduate and undergraduate information technology programs at American Public University, where she serves an aggressively growing department. Novadean has over 16 years of experience in the information technology field. She published a blog post on Women in STEM – Payment Equality in IT, October 2015 and a Q&A piece on Cybersecurity in Higher Education at evoLLLution.com, November 2014.