The technological evolution and the constant changes in the market have caused that the soft skills or soft skills have become basic in the business world.
Organizations have understood that the integral development of human talent cannot be based solely on technical training, but that a set of social, emotional and interpersonal skills (soft skills) are also necessary. Therefore, diagnosing and developing them is the key strategy to improve efficiency and productivity.
Until now, companies have been somewhat ignorant of soft skills. Not because they did not value its importance (which they did, although less than now), but because they did not have the appropriate tools to detect and quantify them.
How could one measure a person's leadership capacity, or their ability to practice active listening?
Luckily, that is now a thing of the past. Today, we have specific tools that help us detect those soft skills How essential they have become. Let's go see them.
Table of Contents
How to diagnose soft skills
Knowing the soft skills of future workers, and of those who are already members of the workforce, is essential for organizations. Because only then are they capable of see all the potential that your employees have off and start mechanisms for its development.
Let's not forget that companies are entities whose ultimate goal is to earn money and, to achieve this, they have to stand out from their competition and offer products or services that are the most desired by consumers. In order to get it, the talent of your employees is of vital importance. The more technical and soft skills they have, the better prepared they will be to face the problems and changes that may occur in the market. In other words, workers with the necessary soft skills are the perfect formula for organizations to continue earning money. Hence you are conceive spending on diagnosis and development of these capacities as an investment.
Performance evaluations are already classic tools when it comes to identifying soft skills. Through them you can measure the progress and performance of a person in a certain position.
They are used to measure objective issues such as productivity, but also to quantify others of a more subjective nature such as communication skills. The key is in clearly define the criteria related to soft skills: the ability to work in a team, to resolve conflicts, etc.
The most effective performance evaluations are those that are divided into two parts. On one hand, the self appraisal that the employee makes of himself and, on the other, a 360º perspective that will take into account the opinions of colleagues, superiors, and even the clients or suppliers with whom that worker is habitually related.
Surveys and questionnaires
These can be done within or outside of a more comprehensive performance evaluation. It is a set of very specific questions, whose purpose is to measure different aspects of social and interpersonal skills.
Some questions can be "yes" or "no", but it is also possible to propose small practical cases in which the respondent must briefly answer how they would react to certain situations that could occur in their work environment.
In certain surveys, staff members are also asked about their feelings about the company and the leaders. To enhance honesty, it is best if these types of questions can be answered anonymously. The results are useful for evaluate the work environment and to develop individual and group development strategies.
The structured interview has become a very important piece in the selection process, and also in internal promotion processes. Along with the basic questions about technical skills and experience, there are others that seek to investigate soft skills. For example, asking about how they acted in the past in the face of a conflict with a partner.
The situational and behavioral questions they generate a more realistic vision of the way in which candidates can apply their soft skills in real work situations.
The interview must be the same for all participants in the selection or promotion process, since this is the only way to obtain objective data, free of bias, that can be compared with each other. The result is that the choice of the new employee, or the person to be promoted, will be much fairer.
observation at work
Although it is difficult to lie on soft skills diagnostic tests, there are those who are capable of doing it. For this reason, it is convenient that the evaluation goes from theory to practice.
In the observation at work, the employee will not be asked for the information, but will be observe how it unfolds on a day-to-day basis. Managers are responsible for observing and evaluating the way their team members communicate, collaborate with each other, or deal with stress.
The good thing about job shadowing is that provides a more realistic view of the soft skills of each person. But it must be done in an unobtrusive way, so that employees do not feel controlled and act naturally at all times.
They are slightly more complex tests and endorsed by Psychology. Specifically measure certain interpersonal skillssuch as emotional intelligence or empathy.
The best thing about them is that they provide a totally objective and standardized view of soft skills, quantifying them in such a way that one can compare that of some people with that of others. However, these tests by themselves are not enough, they must be combined with other methods in order to obtain a more complete and accurate evaluation.
We have already discussed it as part of the performance appraisal process, but it can be done on its own. The key is in obtain information from other people regarding the interpersonal performance of a subject.
The Human Resources expert can find a bit of everything when applying this diagnostic measure. It is possible that some people in the environment of the evaluated worker will put it through the roof and others will criticize it. The key is to know find the middle term. Because the important thing is to detect the strengths and also the areas for improvement.
Projects and simulations
It is a hands-on exercise where employees have the chance to test their skills in a controlled environment. What is done in these cases is present them with a situation that could actually occur in their work, and observe how they act to solve problems, how they make decisions, if they let themselves be overcome by stress, if they are capable of leading others, etc.
This is a very effective way to assess the direct application of soft skills. Which provides very valuable information about the capabilities of each employee.
Development of soft skills in the company
Diagnosing and quantifying the soft skills of all or most of the staff members requires an investment of time, money and effort. Investment that only makes sense if you are going to take advantage of the information obtained.
What we mean by this is that diagnosis is only the first step. Through it, organizations will know the strengths and weaknesses of their employees, and based on them they have to plan and execute. individual and collective development plans.
The way in which this is going to be carried out depends on many factors, and is even related to issues such as organizational culture, but there are a series of steps that always have to be there.
- Identification of relevant soft skills. As we have been seeing in this article, the first step is to determine which are the soft skills that the company needs in its workforce, and evaluate them.
- Establish a development plan. This implies allocating resources to different training and mentoring programs, as well as developing activities and exercises that allow the skills being developed to be put into practice.
- Training and workshops. It is important to apply interactive programs that encourage employee participation. In addition, all workshops and courses must be taught by experts in the field.
- Integration of soft skills in the organizational culture. The company culture must value the development and continuous improvement of its employees, as well as promote their growth.
- Encourage continuous learning. Employees must be motivated so that they want to work on themselves and their professional growth, both through the training offered by the company and on their own.
- Feedback and evaluation. Workers make a significant effort to develop new skills, and they need information about how they are doing.
- Impact evaluation. Ultimately, the organization must measure how the fact that its employees are developing and improving their soft skills directly affects it.
The development of soft skills is an ongoing process that requires time, dedication and commitment on the part of all those involved. In the case of companies, investing in the talent of their employees is investing in prepare to face the challenges of today's business world and those that may come.