Soft skills and Management
Soft SkillsTalent Management

Soft Skills & Management

PerformanSe|2 min read|3 September

The world is changing. So, too, are the skills we expect to find in a manager. An update on the changes in the pipeline with Alexandra Didry, Head of R&D at PerformanSe…

I myself find the various studies published by the World Economic Forum in 2015, 2016 and 2018 very interesting. This is because they were prepared on the basis of a huge upstream analysis project. But also because their results are very clear, centring on three highly varied skills families: basic knowledge, social skills and cognitive aptitude.

So does this mean we’re predicting the rise of “soft skills”?

This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise but, yes, actually. Only the study provides much more clarity, indicating that 10 out of the 16 key skills for future managers are now “soft skills”. “Soft skills” have thus become dominant, outstripping the technical skills that have long been considered more important. Technical skills are now just a baseline, a prerequisite of sorts. Even our definitions of success are changing and will continue to change. “Soft skills” are well on their way to becoming the new “hard skills”!

Naturally, we see “collaboration” and “communication” in the list of required skills…

There isn’t really anything ground-breaking in that. Business and management have always gone hand in hand with good interpersonal skills. But it has never been that obvious in practice. This is mainly attributable to the fact that modern day managers are perhaps not best equipped to excel in these areas (see the PerformanSe study on the following pages), but also because they are difficult skills to measure and train. While it is actually fairly easy to teach people technical knowledge and measure precisely what they have learnt, it is a completely different story when it comes to, say, emotional intelligence. For things like that, we’ll have to come up with new tools.

In the future, managers will have to be critical and collaborative…otherwise they simply won’t be able to manage!

What do HR think ?

PerformanSe took the PerformanSe Day as an opportunity to collect HR specialists opinions about most important skills to use in order to face 21st century challenges. Participants based their thinking upon our IDEAc skills model which includes working abilities and behaviors in five different key fields : Influence, Decision, Efficiency, Agility and Cooperation.

They discussed and exchanged views and ideas in groups of 5 to 7, and then they had to find a consensus inside each working group choosing the 5 most important management skills upon 40 skills in total for the Manager of tomorrow.

Top 5 of the skills choosen :

  • Emotional Intelligence : recognize, understand and manage our own emotions dealing also with people’s emotions
  • Trust in others : ability to develop strong relations with others
  • Vision : bring on new ideas and propose an ambitious approach of the future
  • Innovation : take a fresh look on solutions to find for the challenges we meet
  • Complexity management : paying attention to your surroundings and others, understand without any difficulty the subtleties and nuances of reality.

More generally and beyond this top 5, HR specialists mostly picked skills from the Influence field. This dimension which has a strong emotional and relational component and is caracterised by the ability to start and develop relations with others in order to make them adhere or collaborate has a great importance for HR. Influence is also identified as a key skill by the World Economic Forum to face 21st century challenges.

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