A busy year ahead

BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2018 - 12:00am

Unbelievable! Even as early as now, invitations are rushing in for next year’s company events and leadership trainings. There are the traditional sales kickoff rallies, start–of–the–year kickoff rallies, but to my delightful surprise, there is now more requests for multiple runs and the need for me to go to multiple cities to do soft–skill trainings. Lord willing, it looks like 2019 will be busy for me and my company, and this is why I am gearing them up with expectations of the rising demands for training.

The question is, “Why?”

Is it because we expect business to be bullish? Is it because of the fear of the fact that times are going to be tough and that people should be inspired and challenged to give their best? I am not sure. But one thing I can be certain of is that businesses today appreciate the value of inspiration and training. Inspiration, because competition is getting tougher. People are saddled with work. There is a very popular saying which states that the scariest thing that can happen to a business organization is when their most passionate people grow silent and quiet. Businesses do not want this to happen especially to their high performers. And training, because it is essential. The formation of it is what produces results. I sound like a broken record in my training gigs when I tell participants, “We need to stop saying, ‘I am TRYING to be successful.’ We need to start saying: “I am TRAINING to be successful.” Training transforms your life, NOT trying. Actions flow as a natural outcome of the overflow of who and what you have become because the training and soft skills training are never so much in demand than it is today.

When 2,100 American CFOs were polled in an Accountemps survey, many said that the failure to advance at work was caused by poor interpersonal skills (30 percent) and poor work ethic (25 percent). That said, 77 percent of CFOs consider developing soft skills to be a challenge.

This dilemma sounds like a rock and a hard place; soft skills are necessary as the foundation for career advancement, effective leadership, and strong work ethic. As CFO Magazine puts it, “There’s nothing easy about mastering the soft skills they say are essential, and which seem to boil down to clairvoyance, x–ray vision, and the ability to bend time.”

In the Feb. 13, 2018 issue of risepeople.com written by Rise Staff, a very salient point is presented. Interpersonal skills such as active listening and empathy are important qualities for any employee to have, but they are “rarely taught in business school or a corporate setting.” The importance of soft skills was cemented in Daniel Goleman’s 1995 best–seller, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Goleman accumulated and interpreted psychological research to show that “EQ,” or emotional intelligence quotient, contributes to success in work and life more than IQ. The great news is that Goleman believes that EQ can be developed and improved upon with the right training. It is a good thing that you won’t need to have any supernatural powers in order to be an effective leader, but a mindful shift in interpersonal and management style is required.

So what do soft skills at work look like? Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person’s skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills are interpersonal and broadly applicable.

Here are some of the soft skills essentials that should be cultivated in order to produce maximum results:

1. Effective Communication Skills.

Communication skills are arguably the most important soft skills for an employee. This skill can be learned and improved with the right training. It may take time for employees to learn effective communication skills, particularly if they have a naturally shy disposition. But first they have to be inspired to pursue this course for self–improvement.

2. Working as a team.

Some employees may naturally feel comfortable working within a group, while others may have problems and prefer to work alone. But as business becomes more integrated people should be trained to understand that there should be a shared goal of pursuing company objectives that are more important than having personal agenda.

3. Strong Work Ethic.

People will typically either display a strong work ethic and the drive to complete tasks, or they won’t. While a work ethic is largely an innate skill, it can be learned with proper training and inspiration. This of course comes with certain incentive– based pay or reward structures that are included in the company systems.

4. Problem Solving.

Thinking on their feet. Making quick decisions and solving problems. With training these people will build the ability to take charge of a situation and guide the others through if they have difficulty. If you’re really good at getting clients, and not so good at retaining them, you may have a soft skills gap. If your attrition rate is high and have to keep retraining people, chances are you have a soft skills gap. When you have several managers, but no real leaders – that’s a soft skills gap on leadership and may bring the organization into bigger problems.

The interpersonal dynamic that happens in the modern workplace can no longer be ignored. I guess this is why business guru Tom Peters and a host of other experts say: Today soft is hard and hard is soft.” And I absolutely agree.

(Reserve the dates Feb. 19–20 for the next run of the highly–acclaimed Level Up Leadership Seminar and Workshop 2019 edition. Learn inspiring leadership lessons and valuable life skills in this program at the Makati Diamond Residences. For further inquiries or advanced reservations, contact April at +63928.559.1798 or register online at www.levelupleadership.ph)

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