Develop soft skills to face career challenges

Grooming Leaders: A person without soft skills will find himself in a hard landing in his professional and personal life

Develop soft skills to face career challenges

The importance of soft skills has been recently acknowledged by corporates.

There are many finishing schools which are mushrooming to cater to the market demand.
Mere hard skills won’t make a person employable and enable him to sustain in the professional life. He needs soft skills to mark an impression in the workplace. It is necessary for a person who has career aspiration and is looking for a leadership role in his profession. People are judged based on their attitude and how smart they are in handling different situations. In this competitive era, having the required soft skills will give them an edge over others in the corporate arena.

This paper tries to analyse the importance of some aspects of soft skills and its relevance in the field of management and managers. This is an attempt to suggest that mere hard skills are not sufficient to make one’s professional life complete, successful and satisfactory.

Interpersonal skills 

A person in  the managerial level is expected to have good inter personal skills. Being the leader of the team, it is his prerogative to handle inter personal conflicts, personality clashes and other issues related to the team. He should be able analyse the differences in his team and take impartial decisions.

A healthy formal interaction among the employees in the organisation encourages increased productivity. In this age of globalisation, it is necessary to have interpersonal skills to work with people from different nations and cultures.

Presentation skills

People who are working for corporates, more or less need to be good presenters. Every area of corporate life requires presentation. It can be presenting before existing or prospective customers, suppliers, media or people within the organisation. It is very important to have necessary presentation skills to present the service, plan or product before the audience. One should customise one’s presentation according to the audience. It should be based on the level of education, interest, requirements and suitable time of the audience. Presentation in both forms; oral as well as written form, should be well taken care of by the managers.

Etiquette    

Etiquette refers to the socially accepted behavior and manners to be followed in formal situations. It includes office manners, eating etiquette and procedures to be followed in different situations. Etiquette differ according to the cultures and nations. But there are certain common features which are generally accepted in the corporate world. For example; giving respect and being gentle with elderly people and ladies, taking care of the guests, being gentle and polite in our words and movements, eating without making loud noise, etc. Today’s manager is a participative leader with the appropriate etiquette.

Grooming

Grooming includes mainly the presentability of the person. It is about the right dressing sense of the people according to the situations. A man’s attire includes tucked in full sleeve shirt with tie, light colour and pressed shirt, dark trouser, neatly polished black shoes with matching socks, neatly combed short hair and clean shaven face.

A woman is expected to be dignified in her dressing style. Transparent or body fitting clothes, high heeled shoes, too bright coloured dress, over made up face are a big no. The dress should be neatly pinned and of pleasant colour.

Light make up makes the person more presentable. Dress code of the organisation has to be strictly followed. People with right dressing sense are appreciated in all organisations.

Team spirit

Days  are gone for individual glory or recognition.  Team efforts are appreciated by the companies these days. All kinds of work need united approach and mutual help towards reaching the goals. As a manager it is important to be the facilitator for the team efforts.
He has a major role to play in sorting out the inter personal conflicts with the team and with other teams. When people from different backgrounds and ways of thinking come together, lot of brain storming takes place, which eventually leads to creative ideas.

Right attitude

Attitude can be divided into two types-positive attitude and negative attitude. Positive attitude is considered right attitude. During hiring  freshers with the right attitude are considered over those with mere subject knowledge .

If a person has less subject knowledge, it can be provided in induction and training programmes.

But a person who has negative attitude towards his work and organisation becomes useless and ineffective in the workplace. Managers with positive attitude towards the organisation can be a positive influence to the team and the company. They can achieve greater success in their professional life also.

Flexibility

Flexibility stands for the ability to be open to changes, new ideas and environment. It needs a lot of effort from one’s side to accept, listen to and respect others opinions. A successful and efficient manager will show flexibility in listening to the opinions of the team and take every one into confidence while taking important decisions. Management should accept new thoughts and ideas for its growth.

Presence of mind

It is very important for the person in a managerial role to be mentally alert for the changes within and outside the organisation. He should have the presence of mind to take timely decisions at the time of crisis.

Time management

A stitch in time saves nine. A manager should be a good example to others by setting a high standard on time management. If things are not planned or completed on time, it will have adverse effect on the organisation. In today’s competitive age, everyone is running behind time. It has become a necessity for all companies to work on timely schedules to meet and surpass the competitors.

Work ethics

Work without ethics will not give a long life to organisations as well as individuals. Adhering to the general principles and guidelines is mandatory for the company to function smoothly in the market. Each employee should stick to the work ethics and cultures of the company.

Personal hygiene

It is implicitly believed and expected by all organisations that the employees should take care of their personal hygiene for their own, as well as for the sake of the organisation. It is a basic requirement for the employees to take care of their body odour, bad breath, unkempt and crumpled clothes, dirty finger nails, shoes and socks, unruly hair and unshaven face. Neat people are appreciated and accepted in all organisations.

Listening skills

We have two ears and one mouth and we are supposed to use them proportionately. But we speak more and listen less. It is a commonly understood principle of life that if we listen to others’ words we will have audience to our words too. A good leader will be a good listener too. Many a time, listening rather than speaking will solve a lot of problems. Listening means active listening, not passive hearing of words.

Communication skills

Nobody denies the role of effective communication skills in making a manager an efficient leader. Communication skills in both oral as well as written forms are very important for all roles in an organisation. Effective oral communication has a strong role to play in getting the desired results in marketing and sales jobs. Good written communication is very important in any back office jobs too.

Street smartness

Due to cut throat competition in the market for products and services, most companies have their job profiles which are related to field work. Naturally, candidates who can do wonders in field work and are ready to struggle in the hot sun are preferred than those who are looking for only back office jobs. Even otherwise, it is very important to have one’s individuality and be street smart to become one’s own boss.

Common sense

What is lacking among most people is common sense. People are good in repeating what others do or what the boss says. Many people fail to think on their own and take appropriate decisions at the time of crisis. The solutions to many of our problems are related to basic facts and minimum efforts. But people think much and work less towards the solutions. People in the managerial level are expected to have the knowledge of basic facts, simple solutions and common sense.

(The writer is a Faculty-Business Communication in Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore)

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