What comes to your mind when you think of soft skills? Scoffed skills? If so, you need to change your mindset or continue hemorrhaging to death at whatever your current hemorrhage rate is. Soft skills are not some airy-fairy “I love you, Sister” kind of thing. They are actually much harder to develop than training people in what we call “hard skills.” So you run a tight manufacturing outfit. All the processes you have no doubt put in place will avail you nothing if your staff are disengaged. Is that why so many people are starting to go robotic? Sure, go ahead, going robotic is part of automation, and I am a big fan of automation when it is done properly, meaning it frees people to do work of a higher order. No need to worry about Artificial Intelligence taking over the world. The hardware and software simply aren’t designed for that, and there is an upper limit. Genuine intelligence comes from organic, intelligent, living beings. So do soft skills.
You know this, of course. So why are you finding it so hard to develop soft skills in your enterprise? I’ll tell you why; it’s because you do not honour your people, and your people do not honour you. There are many other words and concepts that one could use in place of the word “honour” of course. I use “honour” because there is so much lack of understanding as to what it really means. Honour is more than just keeping our word. It is much more than dignity. It is absolutely not about “honour killings” or being forced to return some magnanimous deed in like fashion. Honour is simply treating people like people. People who are wonderfully designed and made. People who have hopes, dreams, fears and fantasies. People who are just like us, regardless of race, language, religion or social status. Honour is according greater esteem to other people than we would esteem ourselves. Honour is what flows out of us when we have a servant spirit. Honour looks to strengthen the good in others while not turning a blind eye to their weaknesses. Honour lends aid to cancel out weaknesses in others. Are you honourable? Is your business an honourable business? Do you encourage a spirit of honour amongst your people?
When honour has become natural for you and your people, then other soft skills like benevolence, punctuality, diligence, responsibility, decisiveness and loyalty are brought to the fore. When they are manifested, your people not only ensure that processes run smoothly, they look out for improvements and possible dangers as well. They search out ways to save resources. They arrive and leave on time but are not averse to the occasional extra work and effort. In fact, they work harder whenever necessary so that everyone would be able to work more effectively and efficiently in future. Would you like that in your organization?
I wish I’d learned this much, much earlier. I used to honour the system, but I didn’t honour people. I expected others to be as enthusiastic and as dedicated as I was because I expected everyone to be as professional as I was. Although I did engage with people, it was more at the professional level and seldom were personal lives involved. I know better now. Soft skills are the foundation hard skills are based on. How about you?