Soft Skills are crucial

In a study by GULP on the criteria for success in work and projects, we got the following results:

This study highlights that the 9 most important factors are soft skills. The only hard skill is the last one named academic knowledge.

These results are not surprising since there are nowadays a variety of forms “on-demand” to access to knowledge. These are also available anytime. However, the ability to successfully apply this knowledge to solve problems (i.e skills) and the necessary attitude to “live” agile methods, is extremely important.

Skills are the umbrella term for which enables us to face and master the challenges

in a self-organized manner in work practice.

They require knowledge, skills and qualifications, (i.e. hard skills) but are primarily based on values and competences, (i. H. characterized by soft skills) which are reflected in the attitude and ability of employees to act.

The importance of soft skills will continue to increase because of radically changing framework conditions, such as those caused by a war that suddenly breaks out or an ongoing pandemic or companies with existentially threatening challenges. After all, it is hardly possible to prepare for such unforeseen events. The same applies to far less catastrophic developments, such as the upheavals caused by disruptive innovations such as artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things.

Or the changes within companies, where new structures and forms of cooperation are emerging, while a fundamental change in the negotiation processes between individuals and companies is taking place. In both cases, the consequences for organizations are hard to foresee, as are the skill requirements that employees will have to face.

In addition, the digital transformation means that employees are increasingly making decisions on their own responsibility and planning and implementing their work processes in a self-organized manner with the help of digital systems. However, this presupposes that they have a clear orientation for their actions, so they need soft skills.

If the employees are to be prepared for the challenges of digital transformation and New Work, the “imparting” of hard skills “in reserve” is of little help. Rather, they must be able to cope with developments in a self-organized and collaborative manner that have yet to be conceived – whether they are applications of artificial intelligence or new, completely unforeseeable work processes. It is therefore primarily about competencies and thus about values that serve as a drive and orientation for self-organized action.

Values and competencies are two sides of the same coin that always must be thought of together in order to gain a coherent overall picture of a person’s skills and development needs.

Values and skills cannot be conveyed; you can only acquire them by acting yourself and relating them to existing values. Therefore, it makes sense if development measures are not specified but designed by those affected themselves.

For the development of values and skills, it is important that development measures are not located in an isolated learning setting, but in the team, in the work process. As a result, the respective learning project becomes a work assignment or, conversely, the work project becomes a learning opportunity.

This is made possible by our proven social blended learning arrangements. They form the framework in which the planning and implementation of the development measures can be transferred into a structured further training process. This makes it possible to take the employees out of their familiar world of teaching and to develop a culture of self-organized learning in the work process.

The starting point is the comparison of one’s own values and competencies with the goal, which results in goals and measures that are discussed with the manager. Binding agreements are then made for dealing with challenges in practice or in projects. The spectrum for this is wide. In one customer company, for example, the agreed measure consisted of implementing a project to introduce the agile Design Thinking method in their area in order to counteract the large deviations between actual and target values in terms of creativity. To this end, some trainees have undergone further training in the Design Thinking method, others have expanded their skills in brainstorming methods, Scrum and moderation techniques in order to be able to contribute them to the joint, challenging practical project

In another organization, a Working Out Loud Circle was introduced to address a perceived lack of team relationships and sharing. In this way, the values of education and networking as well as the skills of team-oriented and collaborative action were developed in a targeted manner. In a hospital, an agreement was reached that the head physician of a department would develop and carry out a reflection and feedback process with his team in order to jointly find improvements for the deficient management culture.

Corporate learning requires a paradigm shift: Away from curriculum-based formats for developing hard skills towards soft skills, for targeted, self-organized value and competence development.

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