Soft Skills Don’t Have to Be So Hard!

Debbie Ostrowski

Soft Skills? “What’s that?” you might say. Not long ago, on a return flight home, I found myself seated next to an IT executive. We chatted a bit and, as it usually does, the conversation led to, “What do you do for a living?” When I shared with him that I was a “Soft Skills Trainer”, the man exclaimed, “Soft Skills? That’s the hard stuff, isn’t it?” Indeed, it can be!

People are almost universally promoted to management because, as technical experts, they excelled in the technical aspects of their job. Once they get promoted, they often find that their success in the new job depends as much on their mastery of soft skills as it does on their technical prowess. There is an adage in our business, “People rise because of their hard skills and fall because of (the lack of) soft skills.” A few weeks of following the Wall Street Journal stories about the fallen executives will demonstrate how true that is.

Often, they face issues such as:

  •   Now, how do I motivate this group?
  •   How can I get everyone to pull together as a team?
  •   How can I give them performance feedback without upsetting them?
  •   How can I get them to understand and deliver to the departmental/corporate goals?
  •   What happened? These guys used to be my friends and now they seem like adversaries.

Many of us are more comfortable with the technical duties of our job than with the softer aspects such as writing and presentations, interpersonal communications, getting work done through subordinates and peers, handling conflicts, feedback and coaching, adapting to change, managing budgets and timelines, building a good team, juggling priorities, and coping with the pressure of today’s 24/7 jobs – to give a few examples.

There are, of course, courses that teach this. The Eogogics soft skills curriculum has offerings that run the whole gamut from being a good worker to a good leader. These courses can be taught at your offices, saving you the time and expense of travel. They can even be customized to your needs. If your organization is facing an issue that can be addressed by our course, we can even integrate that problem into our class, so you can learn the relevant tools and techniques in the context of your own real-life challenges. We call such programs “action learning”.