“Congratulations, you are hired!”
Many ‘freshly’ graduated academics will be hoping to hear this sentence in the coming months. It starts their transition from the academic to the business world and will be the start of an exciting & challenging journey requiring a toolbox of brand new skills.
And challenging it will be since more than half of those skills will have nothing to do with the technical aspect of their new job. The skills that really contribute to success in business are soft skills (see also: Forbes: Intelligence Is Overrated: What You Really Need To Succeed)
These softer, interpersonal and relationship-building skills are more critical than ever as organizations struggle to find meaningful ways to remain competitive and be productive.
Teamwork, leadership and communication are key in the effectiveness of result oriented collaboration. Since each is an essential element for organizational and personal success, developing these skills is crucial.
However, while soft skills are increasingly becoming the hard skills of today’s workforce, many young potentials continue to come to organizations without them or at least too little of them. Stephanie Miller states about her experience with graduate students and soft skills: "Many graduate students are so focused on developing expertise in their field that they may neglect to realize how important it is to actively work on skills like communication, time management, or conflict resolution. These skills are critical in the workplace, and being able to demonstrate them can really help a student stand out in today’s competitive job market."
All of the above is no new information for HR managers. They very well know that young hires may excel at IQ but need to develop their awareness of self and emotions, develop empathy, learn to communicate in difficult situations, chair meetings, solve conflicts, present with impact, lead teams. So much to learn in always too little time. Add to that the initial top priority being on functional training and you’ll understand that the development of the crucial soft skills gets put on hold or remains under construction for too long.
Being a mother of 4 young potentials who have gone through the whole process of graduating, getting hired and then starting to perform, I know what it feels like for them. They thought they were on top of the world and through with learning with their academic degree in the pocket. Soon they found out their learning process was far from finished. Within their first six months they were exposed to a whole set of new challenges, all of them related to soft skills. This was their top 3:
- Present to managers in a convincing way and deal with their questions and criticism
- Work in teams with different characters were conflict were arising
- Learn how to receive and give feedback & be assertive
They came to me for help (or was it the free lunch that came with it?) and kind of developed their EQ & soft skills in the result focused very pragmatic fast track I took them through. It definitely gave them a competitive advantage over peers. It also contributed to theirs and consequently their company’s performance.
If it worked to my kids, it will also work for yours or your new hires. Don’t leave their EQ on hold for too long. They might develop the wong habits...