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Posts Tagged ‘Soft skills’

Employee Dis-Engagement: What’s a Manager to Do?

The cost of employee disengagement is extremely high, one study citing as much as $350 billion per year is lost due to disengagement. And the number one person credited with both high employee engagement as well as low employee engagement is…. drumroll… the manager.

Yes, the manager controls employee engagement. Quality Circles, Consultants, and Psychologists have said for years that you “cannot motivate others, you can only create the environment conducive to self-motivation. “ And I agree with this. Managers have the power to set the tone for a motivational environment or a non-motivational environment.

Some ways to accomplish this:

Can Soft Skills Be Taught in a Classroom?

More and more companies are measuring soft skills in their work force and evaluating their impact on performance. Only recently do we have evidence that soft skills may be age- and occupation-related.  This is based on four different studies.  The first two studies were conducted in the fall of 2008.  Nine hundred college freshmen from two Midwest universities were asked to respond to an assessment that measures 23 specific soft skills.  The results from both groups (business and engineering majors) indicated that, as a group, they have almost no mastery in these 23 soft skills. In fact, their lowest scores were in decision making.

In the spring of 2009, a small group of seniors were given the same survey.  The results showed only a slight improvement.

Curriculum or Practice?

Looking at the numbers, it is becoming more and more apparent that certain soft skills cannot be taught in the classroom.  To mention a few:

Interpersonal Skills
Personal Effectiveness
Futuristic Thinking
Self-Management
Diplomacy
Goal Orientation
Flexibility

To support this hypothesis, a group of employed adults (1632) were given the same assessments. Specifically, the research was looking for correlations among people who are passionate about knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Many Ph.D.s fall into this category.  The evidence was very clear on all 23 soft skills:  There were no correlations strong enough to predict a person will actually develop soft skills based on curriculum knowledge.  The assessment used did not measure their knowledge of the skills; it measured their mastery of the skills and the use of these skills in their work.  In other words, Do they walk their talk?

The bookstores are full of self-help books that would lead you to think that buying a book can lead to developing and mastering certain soft skills.  Merely reading a book on how to persuade others will not make you a successful sales person.

So what are we to do? The knowledge needs to be incorporated into activities, experiences and games.  Practicing what you preach is the most promising method of developing soft skills.

First, make a comment if you have some ideas to make this work. Second, contact us if you want to learn about how you rank with your personal soft skills. Our phone number is 901-757-4434.

Awareness followed by Action leads to Change Project Success

Want to improve your change project success rates? Since the average success rate is only 41%, then 59% are failing in some way. Yet, when researching the highly successful change masters of the business world, their success rate was a stunning 80%. That my friend is a high return on investment. If you want to move into the ranks of successful change masters, then the first step is simple…

You must gain insight or true awareness of reality and then launch an action plan.

So how do you make this happen? Early awareness of resistance to change or for that matter – any issues that pop up during the beginning phases of a change project need clear and decisive action plans and steps. Change projects are usually require simultaneous changes in your people’s mindsets, attitudes, culture and complexity issues. Such changes do not happen on there own, they need to be aggressively dealt with by the leaders of the organization.

Soft Skills are Hard

Soft skills are hard for the corporate world – really they are hard for most people. Why? Because the soft skills are less tangible regarding results. This factor allows for some managers and executives to devalue the worth of the soft skills.

Often we are told by managers in corporate environments that they do not want anything that is soft. They want hard, tangible skills for their people. Again, Why? Because they feel (actually they think rather than feel) that the so called “hard skill” training and development will ensure success and results.

How incorrect is this? Big time! Soft skills rule in the success and high performance avenues. The research that has been conducted on high performers – shows that the hard skills knowledge has no bearing on the results – yet, there is a direct relationship to the soft skills.

Let me use a sports analogy to show the difference. As some of you know I am a dedicated fan of college football. Therefore, I watch a large number of teams each weekend during the season. Three factors show up – 1. The best programs are at the top of the rankings every year. 2. Any team can win on any given weekend – no matter who is the competitor. and 3. The best coaches appear to really work the mental side of winning games – the soft skills side of the equation.

Now looking at the three factors a little closer, the winning programs do appear to get the best available talent every year. Yet, no one seems to dominate their league anymore. This is due to the limits placed upon all teams regarding number of players they can have on the team. Therefore some good players go to competitors.

The second factor shows that this balancing effect of player limits has improved the talent levels of every team. This shows up on game days where the favorites are defeated. How often has a team from the top five been defeated this year? No team is guaranteed a victory for just showing up. This is hard for a large number of fans to accept, yet it is a reality.

The third factor – the one dealing with the soft skills or mental edge – appears to be the difference maker. The top coaches are masters of using psychology to get their players ready for every game – not just the big ones. The best motivators get their players to win the games they are supposed to win and play the entire game against good competition. This is the source of the winning edge – the ability to deal with adversity and not panic, the ability to expect to win, to visualize the final score, to have the faith in your teammates that everyone will do their part to seal the victory. This is the world of soft skills.

Organizations should understand this important factor and get their staffs on the winning side of the mental game. Hard skills are important – yet, the soft skills ensure the proper use of the hard skills to win. If you believe that there is a need for more soft skill training in your organization – call us at 901-757-4434. We offer several processes for establishing the winning attitudes for your team. We also have assessments that can check the soft skill potential of the players.