Soft Skills in Human Resource Development

Human resource is one of the most important assets of business organizations. Most managers even stated that human resource is the most important asset in all companies. In the spirit of the statement, human resource development has been receiving significant attention during the last several decades. Recent observations on the growth of multinational companies revealed that one of the reasons of the recent appearance of global start-ups or instant multinationals is the more elaborate skills of managers and human resources. In other words, the rapid development of managerial skills and employee management concepts has been contributing significantly to the successful endeavors of many multinational companies.

Along with the evolution of managerial skills and human resource management concepts, the demands upon the capabilities of managers and employees also grew. Today, corporate leaders understand that they need their managers and employees to display more than just technical skills but also the skills to communicate with others and work as a team. In short, soft skills are apparently gaining popularity as a preferable skill within employees and managers.

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In this paper, I am elaborating on the definition of soft skills in human resource management and how the capability gained more attention within the last decade. Furthermore, the paper will address how tendencies to seek soft skills within managers and employees affect recruitment preferences and how managers and employees should deal with the development. First, I will elaborate the definition and understanding of soft skills and how they are different with technical skills. Afterwards, the next chapter will display the growing importance of soft skills compare to technical ones. The last chapter will address the issue of how modern managers and employees should deal with this latest development in human resource management.

II.                 Soft Skills and Technical Skills

In most working environment, we recognized the presence of two types of skills. The first ones, the hard skills, are the easier to define. The hard skills mean personal capability to do the technical dimension of the job effective and efficiently. Hard skills vary according to the type of job or functions. For instance, a software tester must have the technical knowledge about various types of software and how the operate. A software tester must have the experience that provides them with the understanding of what things usually go wrong with a certain type of software and how to reveal it (Magazine, 2007).

On the other hand, a software tester must also have the ability to impose discipline within him/herself because the job involves routine activities that requires patience. It requires communication and interpersonal skills to communicate a defect to the software developer. It also requires time management skills and effort prioritization to choose which kind of test need to be performed first in respect to the amount of time provided. These skills are known as the soft skills. It functions as a lubricant or facilitator so people could do the technical work better and the organization could also gain optimum benefits from the technical work.

Unlike technical skills, soft skills are harder to identify. This is due to the abstract nature of the ability. We could not define all soft skills because like the technical skills, they relate directly to the unique aspects of the job. For instance, in as a software tester, an employee requires the soft skills of ‘negative thinking’ (Magazine, 2007).

This is necessary to develop a contingency plan and also to generate predictions of what cold go wrong in various circumstances. This skill, despite its usefulness in the software tester profession, could be very destructive for other functions. However, we also understand that there are some soft skills that are needed in most jobs in the modern business environment, for instance communication skills and attitude.

III.              The Growing Importance of Soft Skills

The basic understanding of a job constitutes the technical stuff within the function. This has been the natural premise of work since before the industrial revolution. This masculine understanding of work is suitable for the harsh working environment of the past, where most jobs are directly related to its physical nature and physical necessities. What people need in the past is basically the ability to effectively perform a set of technical activities within the job. However, business managers have seen different tendencies today.

Today, business owners have their eyes on managers with critical soft skills, and managers also crave employees who possess adequate technical skills. The changing tendency is caused by the changing nature of most jobs in the modern business environment. Today, in response of the necessities within the business environment, more attention is given to these feminine qualities of working capabilities. More surveys conducted today signify the need of modern managers, which are employees who have the soft skills in addition to the technical skills. In this paper, we will discuss the prevalence of soft skills in several respects.

III.1.   Communication

The trick of being successful today is having the ability to get things done through others. This means that communication skills has a huge role in managing today’s workforce. Furthermore, communication is not performed in similar manner than in previous times. Today we have emails and other electronic devices that both simplify and complicate the way we communicate to each other. There are changing ‘rules of communication in respect of the communication technologies and most of the non-verbal aspect of the activity has been reduced significantly

III.2.   Interpersonal Relationship

The change in managerial styles generates changes in ways of dealing with faults and mistakes of employees. Previously, managers are placed in pedestals where their words could mean someone’s happiness of huge problems. Today, the hierarchical structure has been cut down to be more horizontal. In a sense, managers have lost their social position as a powerful agent of success or failures. Managers have to work together with their employees, get along with them and gain their sympathy. In these circumstances, interpersonal communication skills are gaining importance (Buhler, 2001).

III.3.   Working in Teams

Managers prefer to assign employees in teams today. Mostly because they are aware that two heads are better than one and that the only way to survive in the future is by doing things together. Today, employees and managers must have the skill to work in teams. Teams who are diverse in nature of their culture and working habits are not uncommon in working environments today.

Furthermore, despite having to work together in teams, employees must also retain their competitive nature because often, a person with whom they must cooperate with is also their greatest competitors. Interpersonal skills and good emotional control is therefore, a must (Buhler, 2001).

III.4.   Ethics

Some issues gain importance in the modern business world as they have never before. For instance, today, the issue of corporate social responsibility and working ethics are gaining importance in most of the global markets. As corporation are demanded to perform more responsible operations and more ethical conducts, leaders and managers are seeking employees who are creative but also can comply to existing ethical standards.

III.5.   Creativity

As mentioned, leaders and managers are also looking for creativity traits in their subordinates. Business owners have learned that businesses cannot survive by doing the same thing they have been doing for the last decade. Adaptation or furthermore, being a pioneer of change is the new ideal company of the modern business environment. Leaders prefers managers and employees who can break free from routine activities and discover new ways of making profit or enhancing market share. A global mindset rather than local one is also demanded from today’s managers. Therefore, the skill to think outside the box is a necessity (Buhler, 2001).

III.6.   Taking Advantage of Diversity

Today’s managers are faced by the facts that the world is becoming a single global village. This means that all cultures must eventually work together to achieve common goals. Inside the business organization, this means that managers and employees must find a way to take advantage of the differences rather than making them a problem. This involves the skills of sensitivity in viewing tendencies of all cultures and figure out how they could contribute to organizational causes (Buhler, 2001).

III.7.   Fast, Responsive and Willing to Change

Another soft skill that has gained importance is the ability to tolerate change. Changes have been the nature of the business today. The environment changes faster than ever and the changes demand quick response from all members of the company. Business owners today prefer managers and employees who are adaptable and can provide quick response to changes of situations (Buhler, 2001).

The types of people who see changes as a good way to develop is preferable to people that believe in status quo. Organizational learning and continuous improvement is the currently popular philosophies of developing firms. As companies are searching for ways to enhance their practice of continuous improvement, employees and managers who have the skill of embracing and managing change are in critical demand.

IV.              Implication to Modern Employees

Realizing the new phenomenon, graduates and jobseekers have understood today that soft skills are the new weapons in job hunt (Coplin, 2004). Graduates must get rid of the thought that their academic skills will guarantee them a good future in a respectable firm. Having a pile of knowledge stock inside your head will not help you achieve success just as having too much vitamins will not help to gain better health. Despite the obvious necessity for technical skills, the soft skills that go along with them are also crucial (Awe, 2005).             Analyst have even develop a list of the important reasons of why people should develop soft skills, some of them are:

·         Soft Skills Creates Opportunity

In today’s business environment, technical skills and certification is not the end of the struggle, it is the beginning. Having great skills do not mean that someone can afford to stop fighting for their future. In reality there are many graduates with excellent academic achievement that cannot find their success in the real world. The lack of soft skills will produce no opportunities for us to display our great technical skills (Awe, 2007; Asbaugh, 2002).

·         Empowerment, Personal and Career Growth

Soft skills are the lubricants that get managers and employees to those places they wanted. It should be a tool to magnify your technical skills instead of blurring them. Soft skills provide employees and managers the chance to grow with the job. It will develop our personal maturity to understand what is required from the job. It will empower managers and employees, support their technical capabilities in effort of achieving their career-goals (Awe, 2007).

·         Creating a true Leader

There are many managers and team leaders today that have more skills than sense. The statement was implying to the tendency that many leaders are unequipped with the tools to lead. These tools are no other than strong combinations between technical and soft skills. Without the soft capabilities mentioned above, leadership will be nothing more than heartless dictatorship (Dunn, 2007; Asbaugh, 2007).

·         Further Understand Professional Ethics and Working Habits

Business conduct in the ‘small league’ is different than the ‘big league’. The higher the pedestal is, the tougher the challenge is. Therefore, top level managers generally have their own recipes to be successful in their business environment. For instance, getting rid of ignorant and individual behavior, swallowing self-pride, digging deep into your personal skills and identifying your ‘social weaknesses have become the soft skills of people in the ‘big league’. Furthermore, these people generally realized that developing tech skills in excuse of poor soft skills is like taking one step forward and two steps backward. Therefore, employees and managers have a greater need to learn these skills as they move forward in their career. Today, managers and employees cannot afford to stay behind if they want to survive in the increasingly challenging business environment (Asbaugh, 2002).

·         Creating The Balance Between Skills and Sense

Most employees in large and hierarchical firms complain about how their employer or superior lack the sensitivity in understanding working conditions of their subordinates. In a small company, having such a leadership culture might no impose large problems, but in a larger company with hundreds of employees, dictatorship style of leadership will no longer be sufficient. Manages must find a way to trust their employees while they attend to more important issues (‘Job Competencies’, 2007).

·         Grow Beyond Money Motivation

A true leader has the ability to motivate their employees without using money as a y tool.  Working beyond the motivation of money creates a better working environment and a better working result. On the other hand there are only few managers who have the ability to motivate employees in such a way. Therefore, employees need the skills to motivate themselves. Learning to motivate ourselves will enhance our soft skills capability considerably (Asbaugh, 2002).

·         Creating a Good Self Image Toward Others

Having a good soft skill provides managers and employees with better self image in the eyes of others. They would become more trustworthy and possess the ability to convince others to use their services. In the modern business world, such capability to influence others is vital for some businesses. Thus, corporate leaders have more reasons to seek for managers and employees who have better sift skills (‘Soft Skills’, 2007).