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Why Foundation (Soft) Skills?

Foundation (Soft) skills are best defined as the wide variety of business skills that fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Interactions with Coworkers

  • Professionalism and / or Work Ethic

  • Critical Thinking or Problem Solving

Each of these categories of skills can be applied to almost any position in nearly every company. That's one of the reasons so many institutions of higher education offer students the opportunity to develop soft skills as part of their curriculum.

Technical skills have little value if you have poor fundamental (soft) skills. Don’t be fooled by your tech skills. Technical skills alone are no guarantee of success. Excellent tech activities, rapid knowledge acquisition, tons of certificates are not the same thing as growth. Technical skills alone don’t lead to recognition, promotion and most importantly opportunity. Technical skills are important but so are your Foundation (Soft) skills. How well do you communicate with your colleagues, management, or your employer? Are you perceived as a contributor or just another techie?

What about your Foundation (Soft) skills?

As you build up your tech expertise, what effort are you making to develop your non-tech abilities? You need soft skills to create opportunity for yourself. What is the use of tech skills if nobody knows you’ve got such skills? The essence of education is opportunity. Use Foundation (Soft) skills to cultivate opportunity. Use soft skills to grab opportunity. Foundation (Soft) skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Foundation (Soft) skills are often described by using terms often associated with personality traits, such as:

  • optimism

  • common sense

  • responsibility

  • a sense of humor

  • integrity

and abilities that can be practiced (but require the individual to genuinely like other people) such as:

  • empathy

  • teamwork

  • leadership

  • communication

  • good manners

  • negotiation

  • sociability

  • the ability to teach.

It's often said that hard skills will get you an interview but you need Foundation (Soft) skills to get (and keep) the job.

How a Foundation (Soft) Skill does assists?

Firstly, the main benefit of soft skills is empowerment. Foundation (Soft) skills are useful for creating and taking advantage, of opportunities – jobs, career and business. No matter how great your tech skills are, when job hunting, your marketing skills should be first-class. Otherwise others who may not be as capable as you, but who have better marketing skills might beat you to the jobs or work you want. In such a competitive environment, perception often reigns supreme. Foundation (Soft) skills Not just for your career but interestingly the acquisition of soft skills also empowers you by allowing you to build flexibility into your future. How? Most Foundation (Soft) skills are regarded as transferable skills, e.g. communication, project management, business and team work, which are needed in nearly all aspects of life, not just for your career alone. You need to grow not just as a techie but as a person.

Secondly, the professional ethics stop negative conduct whether deliberate, due to ignorance, or because of an unsupportive environment. No matter your environment, you can’t afford to be ignorant, insensitive or unprofessional. It assists you to swallow your pride, dig deep and identify your Foundation (Soft) skills gap. Then make a conscious effort to close the gap. Nobody is perfect. But that’s no excuse to empower your weaknesses. Poor soft skills devalue your credibility.

The Soft Skills Gap - Do You Have One?

When your workforce has lots of technical skills but an absence of soft skills, you have a soft skills gap. Soft skills are what accompany the hard skills, and help your organization use its technical expertise to full advantage. When you have lots of managers but no real leaders – that's a Foundation (Soft) skills gap. The workplace has evolved an interpersonal dynamic that can't be ignored.

It's important to recognize the vital role soft skills play within your team and not only work on developing them within yourself, but encourage their development throughout the organization. Areas to examine and evaluate include:

  • Personal accountability.

  • The degree of collaboration.

  • Interpersonal negotiation skills.

  • Conflict resolution.

  • People's adaptability and flexibility.

  • The clarity of communications.

  • Creative thinking.

  • Inclusion.

  • Coaching and mentoring.

The more of these things you see around you, the better people's soft skills are likely to be within your organization. The more positive someone's attitude is, the better that person's relationships will be. That's what fosters great team performance, and leads people to contribute strongly to the organization's shared vision and strategy.