Hard skills are what you typically learn when you go to school, such as adding, typing, operating machinery, speaking a foreign language, technical or administrative procedures, calculus, accounting, engineering, finances, project management, etc.

Hard skills are directly related to the core business of your organization.

Soft skills in contrast - also known as people skills - have to do with how you relate to each other.

Some typical examples of soft skills are: Giving constructive feedback, managing conflict as a creative force for innovation, building trust, facilitating team problem solving and decision making, delegating, coaching, motivating, etc.

So why are the soft skills the hard skills then? This is a game of words of course, but the soft skills are the hard skills because the hard skills are easy to define, observe and measure, and they are also easy to train - whereas the soft skills are less tangible, harder to quantify and measure, and they are also more difficult to train.

In the past managers used to hire new employees mostly based on hard skills - this fact is understandable of course - if you own a restaurant and you need a chef, you will hire someone with the right set of hard skills (knowing how to cook for example).

As important as the hard skills are (remember, they are directly related to the core business of your organization), you cannot afford to under value the relevance of the soft skills. Every single position in any organization requires both hard skills and soft skills in order to do the job successfully.

If you needed to hire a new employee and the learning curve for this specific position was six months - and you had two finalists to fill this position - whom would you hire out of the following two candidates?

The candidate who has the right hard skills but does not have any soft skills for this specific job - or the candidate who lacks the hard skills but possesses all the right soft skills for this position?

I have asked this very same question to hundreds of managers and invariably all of them have told me the very same answer: They would hire the later candidate. Why? Because the soft skills are much more difficult to teach than the hard skills are.

For example: How do you teach an adult to acquire an ongoing hunger for learning if this adult hates - deep inside herself - having to learn new things?

The soft skills are the hard skills - however - both are required to do the job successfully.

Questions? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to here from you - just reply to this e-zine and tell me what you would like future e-zines to be about - I'm listening.

Feel free to re-send this E-zine to your boss, to your employees, to your colleagues, etc.

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Jose Luis Romero - Publisher
January 4, 2011. Copyright: All rights reserved
Skills2Lead Ezine is published on the first Tuesday of every month

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