The second step is to practice the knowledge gained in work scenarios.
“Knowledge gained but not practised would result in forgetting the learnt points. Picking up what one has learnt, and applying it and practicing it and then moving to the second point would be more effective,” feels Rashid.
It is ‘one at a time’ approach to learning new skills. The other way would be to attend learning programmes conducted by professional trainers who have been in the industry for quite some time. Training programmes have a hands-on approach, which results in faster learning and more retention.
“Mentorship programmes, group discussions, mock presentations, role play and understanding of the organisation’s work ethics are some ways to enhance soft skills,” says Bhagat.
In India, nowadays, engineering colleges have started introducing soft skills as part of their curriculum, which greatly helps students to hone their soft skills.
Must-have soft skills that employers want
Companies look out for a mix of skills depending on the nature of work they do. Here is a list of the most desirable soft skills that HR heads of various companies look for:
1. Interpersonal skills such as communication (both verbal and written, including e-mail etiquette), persuasion, presentation, and active listening and learning
2. Good attitude with respect for the job at hand
3. Desire/passion to learn, share and be trained consistently
4. Able to confront reality. If possible, be a specialist in one field and generalist in others
5. Application of knowledge and concise understanding of “how things work”
6. Problem solving/analytical thinking and decision making
7. Honesty, integrity and impeccable ethics
8. Good time management and stress management skills when the pressure to perform is quite high
9. Flexibility to work with people from diverse backgrounds (team player)
10. Positive approach and a “can do” attitude
Practice makes perfect
“Self-practice is another way to improve soft skills,” says Choudhary.
Developing proficiency in soft skills is a lifelong process. “However, soft skills enhancement can and will only take place if there is appropriate level of self-awareness,” believes Dr Bandyopadhyay. “And, of course, practice is essential to sustain and continuously improve once a skill is acquired,” he adds.
Companies today invest a lot of time and money in building up their employees’ soft skills. “A general consensus is that these skills are built up over time and not just through classroom sessions. It is imperative to implement and practice the learning on your own,” adds Pathak.