Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Non-Technical Skills

An artisan at his desk without the Importance of Non-Technical Skills

The Importance of Non-Technical Skills
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of non-technical skills — even in this high-tech world.  The lone artisan working at his bench is more and more rare.  Businesses these days increasingly achieve their objectives by relying on diverse and dispersed teams of workers.

Technical Skills Form the Foundation
To contribute and be a high performer, employees must have the basic technical competencies required to “do the job.”  But, even more importantly, they need to have the non-technical skills – the so called emotional intelligence and soft skills in order to effectively collaborate with others in a way that makes the whole greater than its parts.  In other words, you need the soft skills in order to leverage the hard skills.

The Research Regarding the Growing Importance of Non-Technical Skills
Business leaders are recognizing how very much soft skills matter in improving business performance:

  • Biggest Skill Gaps: Every year LinkedIn analyzes its data to predict the 10 skills that will be most in demand by employers. While hard skills such as data mining rank consistently high, the greatest skill gaps are in the areas of leadership, communication, collaboration and time management.
  • 90% Cite Growing Soft Skills: In a recent Wall Street Journal survey polling more than 900 executives, over 90% responded that soft skills such as communication, curiosity and critical thinking “are as important as technical skills.”
  • Link to Productivity & Retention: Another study reported by Forbes found that soft skills training like communication and problem-solving, boosts productivity and retention 12 percent and delivers a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention.

What This Means
In general, technical skills, given the basic intelligence required, are a ticket to play the game and can be learned fairly quickly and easily.  The ability to build relationships, cooperate with co-workers, and effectively manage others is a skill set that takes a greater level of focus, investment and reinforcement to develop and sustain. And, unlike technical skills that can become quickly outdated by shifts in the marketplace, people skills never become obsolete.

The Bottom Line
When you are hiring or looking to boost performance, don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of non-technical skills.  Look for the minimum of hard skills needed to get the job done.  Then hire, promote, develop, and reinforce the soft skills required to create high performance.

To learn more about building soft skills, download The #1 Reason Soft Skills Training Fails According to Executives

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