This issue brings you a round-up from our UK Conference in Manchester last month with articles fr
Like many of you I have always had an eye on my own continuing professional development and given serious thought to what areas of HR/OD I need to expand my horizons with. While my CPD has always been somewhere in the back of my mind, I would be kidding myself (and you) if I were to say that my attention to it was consistent, thorough and ever-present.
But sometimes when you think about your career, you start asking yourself questions. Have I been involved in and won enough ET’s or supported enough change programmes? Do I really understand what the world thinks OD is and do I lead my department in the best possible way? All of these factors and many more are what I believe to be hard skills – those really tangible things where you can say, yes I have done ‘A’ because I can demonstrate this from the time when I did ‘B’, and ‘C’ was the outcome. Self-round of applause and pat on the back, box ticked!
However, more recently I have found myself being forced to consider the more intangible ‘soft’ skills. What has struck me is that these often seem harder to master, they can be never-ending and don’t deliver feedback and quick wins. Indeed they can be the epitome of a slow burner! And how do you describe and demonstrate you have improved your soft skills? Saying, ‘Well I think my relationship management skills have improved because someone smiled when I said good morning and they wouldn’t usually’ doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘we improved X HR metric by 20% and made a saving of Y in the process’.
Also are the softer skills you learnt in one area transferable to a different organisation and culture? Every recruitment agency will tell you that they aren’t! Even in healthcare, different segments have their own cultures, whether it is mental health, specialist trusts, primary care, national bodies etc. So does that mean as healthcare professionals we can’t work across the board even in our own sector because soft skills are not transferable?
I disagree. I believe that soft skills are both transferable and valuable in all walks of life, both professionally and personally, across healthcare and beyond. People are people, and developing softer skills to help organisations combat challenges in one area will always stand you in good stead in your current workplace, future workplace and even outside of the workplace. You may not always receive praise forthem and you may find that you can’t always articulate or measure them, but don’t underestimate the benefit of those soft skills.
I am sure in the coming months there will be times where I will be pleased that I focused on developing my listening skills and my resilience. And while that development may not be tangible or impressive, I hope whoever I am interacting with gains benefit themselves from my efforts.
So do you think soft skills are just for softies? Or are you going to include them in your professional development?
Richard Edge, HR & Workforce Consultant
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