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  1. 1. International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), ISSN 0976 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARKETING AND HUMAN – 6421 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online), Volume 4, Issue 3, September – December (2013) RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (IJMHRM) ISSN 0976 – 6421 (Print) ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online) Volume 4, Issue 3, September - December (2013), pp. 38-44 © IAEME: Journal Impact Factor (2013): 4.6901 (Calculated by GISI) IJMHRM ©IAEME SOFT SKILLS: A THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE Dr. Amarja Satish Nargunde Associate Professor, Department of Management Studies at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Institute of Management & Rural Development Administration, Sangli 416416 ABSTRACT Corporate organizations too, have their long and tough recruitment and selection process, from resume-screening, aptitude tests and multi-level of interview. The aim is just not only to filter out inappropriate candidates but is also to find out people who have ‘something’ to make them highly effective and efficient. Such employees are considered as the biggest assets and high quality workforce makes direct difference to company’s growth and competitiveness. Employees with ‘right stuff’ stand out among the crowd. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, former GE CEO Jack Welch and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz have been able to prove their excellence as corporate leaders and have been looked up as examples to follow. There are many examples of those who have risen from ranks and files and succeed in reaching to the top most position of the organization. There are those who were never in merit list of school or college and always back benchers but in life they have achieved success making people wonder what is that ‘extra’ makes some people more successful than others. The answer for ‘right stuff’ or ‘extra’ is ‘Soft skills’. INTRODUCTION More and more young men and women prefer corporate world to make their career paths into. The reason is not that they are paid well, but it is considered as a fair place which recognizes performance and reward employees according to it. Increased opportunities are emerging with new foreign multi-nationals but also due to existing companies are expanding operations in India. Domestic market is growing and so is the size of the middle class. Business houses like manufacturing companies, airlines, retail stores, fast food chains and financial services have carving out more pie in the national as well as international economy. Cross border workflow has necessitated increased communication and additional interaction with many, many people from different cultures. Both quantity and diversity has increased creating many challenges. 38
  2. 2. International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), ISSN 0976 – 6421 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online), Volume 4, Issue 3, September – December (2013) Some of the challenges which need to be considered in the view of changing business scenario: 1. Diversity: As Thomas Friedman has said “Geography is History”. World is turning into a global village. National boundaries are shrinking. Globalization has made people from different countries and cultures work together. Indian engineers are working shoulder to shoulder with their U.S. and European counterparts. 2. Long term orientation: Youngsters should not get carried away by the glamour of the corporate world but should be able to view the big picture and should develop long term thinking for their own as well as organizational progress. 3. Telecommunication: Widespread use of telecommunication has made physical existence optional and has created many virtual organizations and virtual teams which are scattered across large geographical area. INDIAN BACKGROUND India is known as IT (Information Technology) and ITeS (Information Technology Enabled Services) hub of the world. Going by the latest numbers (in 2012/13) IT-BPO (business process outsourcing) exports and domestic market revenues are expected to total $108 billion in this year, the industry grew 15 per cent in 2011/12. The industry provides jobs to 2.8 million, and indirectly employing 8.9 million people. India's institutes of higher learning produce approximately 3.1 million graduates every year. India currently has around 347 institutes of higher learning and 16,885 colleges with a total enrollment of over 9.9 million. These institutes produce around 495,000 technical graduates, nearly 2.3 million other graduates and over 300,000 post-graduates every year. However it has been observed that there is a gap between industry demand and much of time of organizations are spending on retraining the newly recruited employees to bring them to industry levels. Large numbers of these youngsters are not ready to face stiff competition which exists in ever demanding corporate world. India can have much competitive advantage as majority of its population would be young and reasonably well educated. What is required is retraining, continuous improvement of young men and women to be groomed in the art and science of being professionals. It is important to instill strong measure called ‘Soft Skills’. Meaning Soft skills are essentially people skills which are non-technical, intangible and personality specific skills that determine one’s strength as a leader, listener, negotiator or conflict mediator. It consists of combination of several components like attitude, abilities, habits and practices to maximize work effectiveness. There should be right proportion of each of component which will turn into formidable skills and eventually transforming into competencies. It consists of strong and healthy attitude, feeling of good about self and able to relate to environment, better resulting in effective communication and polished etiquette. Definition “All those skills over and above technical knowledge and expertise in chose field, required for an individual to relate to and survive and succeed in his or her environment.” 39
  3. 3. International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), ISSN 0976 – 6421 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online), Volume 4, Issue 3, September – December (2013) Soft skills is a sociological term relating to a person's "EQ" (Emotional Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skills complement hard skills (part of a person's IQ), which are the occupational requirements of a job and many other activities. Soft skills is simply a term relating to a collection of personality traits, positive attributes, social graces, communication abilities and competencies that enhance an employee's relationship and performance on the job that lead to a "total fit". Types of Skill Categories 1. Technical or Hard Skills 2. Non-Technical Skills Three Key Differences between Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills • • • People with good hard skills usually have left brain-the logical center orientation and with strong IQ (intelligent quotient). Soft skills require good Emotional Intelligence or EQ (also known as right brain- the emotional center). Examples of hard skills include math, physics, accounting, programming, finance, biology, chemistry, statistics, etc. For Hard skills the rules stay the same regardless organizations, circumstance or people one works with. In contrast, soft skills are self management skills and people skills where there are no fixed and application of soft skills change depending on the organizational culture and people to work with. For example, programming is a hard skill. The rules for creating the best code are same whether the person works in Infosys or TCS. But for communication skills which are a set of soft skills, how to be effective at communication changes and depends on the receiver and the type of message which is to be communicated. Hard skills are taught in schools and can be learned from books. There are different levels for excelling in hard skills. For example, programming is a hard skill. One can take basic programming course say in Java and then Advanced Java course. For soft skills there is no simple path. Most soft skills are not taught well in school and have to be learned on the job by trial and error. Books and guides on soft skills can help to an extent. But there is no alternative to practicing those skills to excel in it. Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills – What is more important? It depends highly on the career one chooses. Careers can be put into 3 types of categories. 1. Careers that need hard skills and little soft skills This is where you see genius people who cannot deal well with people. They can still excel in careers. For example: a mathematician. 2. Careers that need both hard and soft skills For example: Accountants, Lawyers or teachers – they need to have good knowledge of accounting or law or the subject a teacher teaches but they should also be good in communicating with clients or for teachers, to students to build a successful career. Dealing well with clients requires excellent soft skills like communication skills, interpersonal skills etc. 40
  4. 4. International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), ISSN 0976 – 6421 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online), Volume 4, Issue 3, September – December (2013) 3. Careers that need mostly soft skills and little hard skills For example in sales, a car salesman need not have all the knowledge of engineering aspects. But he just needs to know little more than the customers. His job is more dependent on his ability to understand customers’ needs, planning sales talk, convincing abilities and finally clinching the sales. These are all basically types of soft skills. CHARACTERISTICS OF SOFT SKILLS 1. Combination of all: Soft skills are not just pleasing personality, technical skills, smooth talking or command over language but combination of all. These skills vary from time to time, culture to culture and situation to situation. 2. Abstract concept: It is possible to detect absence of soft skills. Like a critic would say ‘something is wrong’ without being able to tell what to do to make right or what is right then. 3. Applies to any industry: Whether IT or manufacturing, family business or multinational corporations, soft skills are absolute essential for success. It is not icing on the cake as considered optional but it is the dough itself without which cake can’t be made. 4. Not ‘Quantifiable’ but ‘subjective’: Soft skills can’t be measured like IQ and no number can be assigned to it. They are difficult to measure in terms of number. 5. Rarely taught but caught: Soft skills cannot be formally taught in the same way as you can teach engineering principles or mathematics but soft skills are learned by observation and example setting. Person should adapt to environment, tuning antennae to catch soft skills. 6. Culture dependent: In Indian context being assertive or vocal is considered negative sign but in the American context lack of it, is considered as poor skills. WHAT ARE NOT SOFT SKILLS 1. Good language command and vocabulary: Language knowledge is must but use of mere empty poetic words does not make anybody good communicator. Knowledge of synonyms, antonyms, prepositions, articles and other grammar elements is definitely essential. But soft skills are more than it. It is the ability to apply right language, at the right time and at right place in an effective way. 2. Good talking: Soft skills are considered as communication and that too spoken communication. Essential to management jobs only. Soft skills are considered essential for only management jobs and not technical jobs. However promotional/career paths start with technical, and later leading to administrative and managerial jobs. It is impossible for a person to develop soft skills ‘just in time’ before taking up managerial role and simply it will not work. 3. No need of hard skills: Another extreme is the fallacy that people can succeed just because they are highly social and can talk better than the others. Soft skills are not same as being able to talk in poetic or flowery language. 4. People are born with soft skills and not made: This is another misconception that soft skills run in blood and can’t be changed until the blood is changed. The truth is soft skills can be learned just like programming, bike riding or cooking. It may not be fully possible to fully teach soft skills but they can be learned with efforts. 41
  5. 5. International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), ISSN 0976 – 6421 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online), Volume 4, Issue 3, September – December (2013) SOFT SKILLS IN INDIAN SCENARIO Advantageous points 1. Most professionals pick up sufficient knowledge of English grammar and usage in their college years. It is just a little push which is required to reach next level of competence. Therefore there has been wide spread of call centers that train large number of people in short term to meet international standards of spoken English. 2. Indians generally know several languages and have big advantage over monolinguistic culture in terms of ability to learn new language. 3. India is pluralistic society with various ethnic, religious and social groups which gives Indians an awareness and insight into other belief systems, cultures and values. This sensitivity is useful while interacting with ever shrinking world, populated by many unfamiliar cultures. 4. India is the largest democracy of the world where citizens enjoy freedom of expression. Backdrops 1. In India, most educated people speak reasonably good English. However Indian English tends to be archaic and remnant of British Raj. It has failed to change with times. 2. New generation of Indians are growing up on Internet chats and messages. These peculiar brands of English that may help to communicate with immediate friends but many find it difficult to understand English of American colleagues. 3. Knowledge of other International languages like Japanese, French or Spanish is abysmally poor. 4. Pluralistic society has also given rise to tensions and irrational fears. 5. Years of feudalism has brought many habits in Indian. Calling boss by ‘sir’ is very common in India, at times making Indians getting into unnecessary subordinate role. 6. Sense of unlimited freedom sometimes results in lack of sense of responsibility. Use of unnecessary words and lack of cooperation can also be seen among Indians. IMPORTANCE OF SOFT SKILLS • • • Soft skills play a significant role in one’s success in life particularly in one’s career. They are important to succeed in the workplace and they are even more important in the age of information and knowledge explosion. Soft skills help in highly competitive corporate world in standing out in a crowd of regular job seekers with ordinary talent and skills. Socially acceptable profile and skills are needed to make a good employee. The job seekers are expected to have what employers call soft skills. With ever changing impact of technology, management pays more attention to soft skills. According to the recent survey, more valuable employee is the one who can grow and learn as the business changes and grows. Soft skills play an important part for the success of an organization. Organizations, particularly dealing with customers face-to-face, are generally more prosperous if they train their employees to use these skills. With the boom in outsourcing, many professionals and subject experts are directly dealing with their clients on a regular basis. 42
  6. 6. International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), ISSN 0976 – 6421 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online), Volume 4, Issue 3, September – December (2013) Soft skills have become absolutely essential for the success of the organizations and individuals. Soft skills are as important as traditional hard skills to an employer regardless of industry or job type. It is essentially to be technically sound, but one should also have the ability to convey the idea to the masses in the simplest possible manner. Planning is necessary but execution is also equally important. And it takes soft skills to execute any idea because it involves dealing with people directly. • • IMPORTANT TYPES OF SOFT SKILLS In all there are 60 soft skills like Maths, Safety, Grammar, writing skills, following rules, self direction, ability to measure, valuing education, wanting to do a good job, basic manufacturing skills training, awareness of how business works, staying on job until it is finished, ability to read and follow instructions, being drug free, good attendance, personal energy, critical thinking skills, understanding what the world is about, commitment to continues training and learning, ability to relate to coworkers in a close environment, communications skills with public, fellow employees, supervisors and customers. Some important soft skills which are absolutely important for the work life can be: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Interpersonal skills: These include the ability to lead, motivate and delegate. They are important at every level of organizational responsibility. Being the most technical person in the field is not always enough unless one has the ability to convince others that how things are important and what the organization should do for it. Team Working: Change and innovation is the new mantra for survival and succeeding. Most of the organizations have their work as team based rather than individual based. Team building is one such area in which employee must be trained. Negotiation Skills: The success of negotiating lies in ability to achieve desired outcomes and yet maintain successful ongoing relationships with others. Influencing positively helps in achieving more and building relationships based on openness, trust, understanding and mutual respect. Communication skills: The ability to communicate effectively is indispensable requirement for technical, engineering and IT processionals, as the nature of industries make them dependent upon shared knowledge. In most of the cases communication skills are the deciding factor in matters of selection and promotion. Time Management: It is actually a myth that time can be managed. After all there are only 24 hours in a day. Time can’t be managed but the person should manage himself. As it is said ‘if you have to get a work done, give it to the busiest person.’ The busy person sets up his priorities and ends up doing many tasks which an ordinary person finds difficult to complete in a given time. The great leaders from all spheres of life could do many things in spite of their busy schedule. Stress Management: The demands of life are becoming ever increasing which are making increasing number of people cope with stress. The ability to cope with stress varies from individual to individual. But the fact is that work and stress go hand in hand. Everybody experiences pressure. Success in a job depends on ability to handle work pressures. 43
  7. 7. International Journal of Marketing and Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), ISSN 0976 – 6421 (Print), ISSN 0976 – 643X (Online), Volume 4, Issue 3, September – December (2013) CONCLUSION Although traditional hard skills are important, importance of soft skills is growing in this area of knowledge explosion. Soft skills are not taught the way hard skills but one can gain expertise with practice. Having soft skills is no more a choice but has become imperative in order to prove one’s metal in ever rising competition. REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Soft Skills: Dr.K.Alex. The ACE of Soft Skills: Gopalaswamy Ramesh, Madevan Ramesh. M. Radhakrishnan and Dr. S. Sudha, “An Overview of Employability Skills Required for Engineering College Leavers”, International Journal of Management (IJM), Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012, pp. 231 - 236, ISSN Print: 0976-6502, ISSN Online: 09766510. Dr. R.Prabu and Dr. K.Sridhar, “Information and Communication Technology Skills Among the Colleges Librarians Affiliated to Bharathidasan University: A Study”, International Journal of Library and Information Science (IJLIS), Volume 1, Issue 2, 2012, pp. 25 - 33, ISSN Print: 2277 – 3533, ISSN Online: 2277 – 3584. Dr. Amarja Satish Nargunde, “Application of Various Motivators to Teaching Profession”, International Journal of Advanced Research in Management (IJARM), Volume 4, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 11 - 15”. ISSN Print: 0976 – 6324, ISSN Online: 0976 – 6332. Dr.Amarja Satish Nargunde, “Measures for Improving Teachers’ Motivation in Technical Education Field”, International Journal of Marketing & Human Resource Management (IJMHRM), Volume 4, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 40 - 44, ISSN Print: 0976 – 6421, ISSN Online: 0976- 643X. 44