Saturday, October 09, 2010

All you are told about 'soft skills' is bullshit

Think for a minute... over the past years, what are the skills you wanted to improve to be successful in your job? Let it be the advices from mentors, appraisal results, manager feedback or any other, I can guarantee 90% ends up at soft skill improvements.

Is that what will take you there? Unfortunate truth is that the most of the ‘soft skill’ hype is actually made by the training institutes to get a better share of your organizations training budget. Think rationally. If you are to promote your subordinate to take over your position, what is the most important skill you look for?

It is not some soft skill... but it is obviously ‘how dependable the person in delivering what you have delivered so far’. This is the truth most of the employees fail to understand. Look around the industry.. how many brilliant minds get beaten by average minds in job promotions. Many think organizations are unfair when that happens, but always there is a reason behind. You promote the one who is most dependable in the given delivery responsibilities but not the one with greatest abilities. The reason is.. the one who is dependable knows/finds what is takes (including technical skills what he doesn't know + soft skills what he doesn’t have) to achieve the goals. He/she will ensure those are smoothly available to achieve the deliveries as planned.

That is management. Where did that all begun? At soft skills? Not really... All begins at taking responsibility of deliveries. If you are a beginner, start with the task level. If you work on a task, take the responsibility that the feature is delivered to the release. Do not wait for someone in the team to come around and ensure your task is integrated with other tasks to make the feature integrated in to the release. Similarly take the delivery responsibility of what ever you encounter with.

Finally here is the golden rule of promotions. When you promote some one, he should be the one, to whom if a work is given, you can close your eyes and be guaranteed to get the work be delivered!

[tag: 99xl ]


Nalaka said...

Great article. I totally agree with this.

In almost all of the project teams there are some resources/people who are desperate to deliver what they have asked for. Thier attitude is the sole feature which helps them to fulfill the task. It's not their qualifications or the knowledge which helps them to do so, only thier goodwill and the attitude. What ever the project management methodology/framework they have to stick to (or try to mess their way of work), who ever their supervisor or team members, what ever the domain, they care about nothing but to deliver the deliverables on time.

I have noticed this behaviour over the years. Teams who consist of these kind of resources always used to close the projects successfully. But those people are rarely appreciated, other people were continuously asked to develope thir softskills. :)

Lakmal said...

As I can remember, in one of the post you published here, you have mentioned that the most helpful person for you to move up in carrier is the best subordinate work with you. That's a 100% true concept.
Same way, this is also such a hidden (or not discuss in many times/places) true concept that you have discussed. In most of the companies, they are encouraging people with the high technical skills, but by the time true skills are coming to reality and people who are committing to more and more responsibilities, is get promoted.
But as a new comer to the industry like Software Development, it's hard to believe this truth at the earlier stage of carrier.
Great post, thank you for sharing this

Unknown said...

I totally agree to the fact that training organizations are over glorifying soft skills. I feel soft skills are partly trained but mostly effective when you are close observant of people around you and how they behave in different situations. In that sense soft skills can be your self.

From an organization point of view (and specially a Sri Lankan one), allocating a fair budget for soft skill training is kind of easy way out for the company to adhere to their training commitments. (i.e Just to make employees happy).

The bottom line is we need good technical training institutes in SriLanka, so that companies can make a more effective allocation of training budgets.

Why don't you put that in to your plans machan? :)

Mr. Blue said...

I once worked in soft skill training and totally agree that it's the most useless type of training.

Working in research, HR was concerned when I opted out of every single soft skill training in my first year (motivation, sales skills, time management, etc.) and forced me to go to presentation skills training (all employees need to attend at least one training per year). The trainer told all of us that no matter what, we need to talk about the weather at the beginning of every presentation. I walked out.

For this, my company made me take conflict management training. In the middle of the training session, the trainer made everyone start poking themselves and yell "I feel so alone!". I stayed for entertainment value, but did not learn anything about how to manage conflict.

Based on the poor feedback I gave on the training (which was supposed to be anonymous, even though the anonymity was obviously broken because HR asked why I wrote such bad comments about the training), I got blacklisted from all future training opportunities in my company. HR told me that this is a very serious punishment and will affect my promotion opportunities.

I am now happily leading two project teams, having been promoted for my productivity and team management skills :)

Lesson learned: Soft skills can be learned through experience, and trainers that have no idea about your company or industry should not be allowed in the door.