They should’ve always been called power skills. It’s become obvious that the “soft skills” of the past are at the forefront of what’s most needed in our current workplaces.
These “soft skills” have gone from something that employers may have overlooked in the past in the name of more technical “hard skills” to a vital part of any desirable resume.
But what are these so-called Soft Skills or Power Skills? Can they be taught and developed? Are they more important for certain kinds of jobs and tasks than others? And why is it critical that they go from soft skills to power skills in our workplace culture?
What should we call these skills?
For many companies, skill needs are divided in two main groups. The first group are hard skills, which are the more traditional, technical skills we acquire from our education, careers, and even work experience as industries shift and transform. The second group of skills, known as soft skills, have more to do with our approach to people, managerial skills, attitudes towards problem solving and team building, communication, empathy, creativity, and other less conventional characteristics that have become increasingly valuable in the workplace.
In fact, studies show that training employees in these so-called soft skills increases productivity by 12%. For some, just referring to them as “soft skills” demonstrates how little we really understand about their importance in the workplace. In fact they are a key part of it, especially in hybrid workplace management. Therefore, it’s imperative to not only rebrand them from soft skills to power skills (or human skills for some), but to invest in them as essential parts of our professional development and evolution.
We’re not saying that the hard, technical, skills aren’t as relevant – coders, for example, can’t just choose to get creative without proper training. However, while many of these abilities can become obsolete unless you continue to update them, so-called soft skills remain and evolve. And possessing them might be exactly what helps you thrive in an ever-changing work environment that requires people and communication skills.
From Soft Skills to Power Skills
As we redefine the way they impact the workplace, it makes sense that a rebrand from soft skills to power skills would feel like a relevant change moving forward. These are abilities that take time to develop. They build stronger and more empathetic leaders and coworkers. They increase productivity and improve the working environment, and they should be taken seriously by both employees and employers. For many companies, technical skills, or hard skills, are simply not enough anymore.
The power skills necessary for someone to thrive will usually vary from one industry to another. Someone in the entertainment industry will need a different set of abilities than someone who works in programming. Still, there are some abilities that could be considered valuable regardless of industry, things like:
- Good communication
- Time management
- Willingness to learn
- Conflict resolution
- Decision making
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Creative thinking
- People skills
People’s ability to self-manage, for example, has become invaluable in hybrid work environments. Your skill when handling conflict creatively and in a way that benefits your whole team could prove you’re the kind of leader your company has been looking for and help you secure that promotion you’ve had your eye on.
How to Build Power Skills in the Workplace
By now you may be wondering, can power skills be taught and developed? The answer is yes. Power skills take time and work to develop, but they can be learned and strengthened in time. Like with so many other things, it takes a little practice, but embracing these will be vital to the future of the workplace – whether it remains hybrid or goes back to being fully in-person.
Since power skills can be so diverse, companies will have to decide which ones are better suited to their values, needs, and the different roles. Being a people person and a creative thinker who is good at thinking on their feet will do wonders in fields like sales, while someone who spends most of their time working remotely will benefit more from appropriate time management and good communication skills.
Making sure workforces have these new in-demand skills means companies will have to embrace a culture of learning and prioritize education, run workshops and provide tools for their employees to grow and develop.
Five Valuable Power Skills
Still not convinced these should be rebranded from soft skills to power skills? Forbes’ 2021 Top 10 Skills Recruiters Are Looking For is mostly made up of power skills, which shows that developing these skills will become massively beneficial for anyone looking to grow within their company or hoping to impress recruiters. Five of the most important ones are:
1Growth mindset: Companies will be more inclined to hire someone willing to grow and learn, than someone who has technical skill but doesn’t have the flexibility and curiosity needed in a workplace going through constant change.
2Teamwork: Whether you are a team leader or a team member, you’ll have to learn how to manage yourself, participate actively, communicate empathically, and connect meaningfully with other members of your team.
3Resilience and Adaptability: Companies want to know that people have made mistakes, learned from them, and built resilience. That the drive and determination to succeed is present, and that there’s a willingness to adapt to new or unexpected scenarios.
4Time Management: Being able to manage time and prioritize tasks in the most effective way while working remotely and dealing with the distractions of a home office environment, will become invaluable to many companies.
5Communication: In person communication is and will continue to be fundamental, but it’ll also be key to learn to participate and be present in hybrid workplace, where many of the meetings will take place online.
If you’re looking to upgrade or strengthen your power skills, join the Red Shoe Movement’s Step Up Plus program where you’ll meet professional women from all over the world who work in large organizations. It’s a year-long program where we focus specifically on building your self-confidence by sharpening those critical power skills we’ve been talking about on this post.
Aline Cerdan Verástegui
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