These aren’t soft skills

Value of Soft Skills

Soft skills have a bad rep – they’re a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have.

Things like time management, team work, problem solving, ability to take criticism, and of course, communications. Training for them is the first to get slashed from the budget, to get pushed back in the calendar, and if you ever manage to actually attend a training, you think can multitask your “real” job during the class.

Seems logical that people with a job focused on “hard skills” like mathematical analysis, statistical modeling, and engineering would have training solely focused on it. After all, these people are getting paid for their awesome technical knowledge. And, they just communicate with machines anyway, right? All they need to do is talk about protocols, bits and bytes, and things like leveraging shared capabilities that are self-healing to maximize network efficiency.

What our partners at F5, Brocade, Cisco, Informatica, and others have realized is that technical competency is a fantastic and necessary foundation, but great communications is the tipping point to closing the deal, launching a new initiative, or leading change in their organizations. They’re the ones investing in their Engineers, Programmers, Analysts (whether or not they are customer-facing) to become more effective communicators. Unfortunately, even PhDs in Physics, Computer Science, and Statistics can leave their great team/life/company/world-changing ideas on the table if they can’t engage their listeners and motivate them to do something.

So, what happens when these “hard skill” masters come to Decker? Here’s an excerpt from a blog post written as a result of our most recent work at F5 Networks. Click here to read Steve’s entire post.

Here’s a shout out to all the engineers (and our clients who are footing the bill) who take two days to raise their game. Thanks for being so engaged, for challenging yourself and each other, and for making a difference the very next day. And a big shout out to Steve for sharing his experience and showing that it’s not just about the hard stuff.

What’s your best “soft skills” experience? What kinds of programs should be moved from the “nice-to-have” category to  the “need-to-have” list?

6 comments on “These aren’t soft skills

  1. Building rapport is the most important soft skill there is. It’s the foundation of influence. No motivation, persuasion, sales, etc. can occur without it. Good post.

  2. Soft skills are important in being effective. just like hard skills, soft skills are must haves. A worker without soft skills will never be effective, even if he has hardskills. Perhaps, a combination of these skills are necessary to be successful/

  3. Yep – a good idea by itself is never enough… I remember the parable of the “naked truth”… we want him dressed to impress even though we say we just want the facts ;-)

  4. Great point here, Kelly!

    EVERYONE needs communication skills.

    The world’s authority on a subject needs to Educate, Entertain, and Explain to an audience, else their knowledge won’t have the impact he/she wants.