Etiquette and Soft skills are fast becoming a competitive advantage for businesses
By Kanyin Adio-Moses
Today’s world is fast advancing through digital skills, and the application of digital technology to further all aspects of business and society. It may seem to the untrained eye that digital skills are paramount and sufficient for business growth today, but this is not the case.
There is one important skill area that distinguishes a business from its competitors and therefore, should not be overlooked.
This skill set is referred to as ‘Soft Skills’, an important part of personal and professional development, which helps to provide a significant leverage in every sort of marketplace.
As we know, an integral part of every business is labour. As the British writer Kamil Toume put it, “The real competitive advantage in any business is one word only, which is ‘people’”.
In situations when members of the labour force have to interact with the customer, and represent the company’s brand – soft skills are critical.
In addition, Soft skills has a big role to play in everyday interactions, in the workplace, with co-workers. An employee without basic soft skills may struggle to perform tasks efficiently.
Customer service is one crucial area where the importance of soft skills is magnified. Effective communication, politeness and a mastery of corporate etiquette will provide an edge for every business.
This is simply because every customer will end transactions with a pleasant taste in his mouth, and a smile on their face.
Ruffled feathers will be smoothed (or at least managed) easily, and tact would be the watchword.
In modern business management and the administration of a small enterprise, everything depends on how well the skills of teamwork, branding, time management, communication and customer-centric service delivery can be put into practice.
Many SMEs who are oblivious to this fact end up struggling for years at the beginning phase, without making any substantial headway.
Also, it is worthy to note that – soft skills do not just get the job done. Soft skills get one the job! A person’s employability is dependent upon their soft skills, in this age where the ability to be an independent worker is highly sought after.
A good resume will get one’s foot in the door, and get one invited for an interview. However, that’s as far as one’s technical skills can take a person in the recruitment process.
This is because the outcome of the interview stage is heavily dependent on the applicant’s soft skills which many forward-thinking employers now base as a recruitment criteria.
Some of the important soft skills that everyone requires for personal development, include: communication skills, emotional intelligence, and presentation skills.
Personal development is the base on which every strong business is built. Your employees can only produce output based on how developed they are as people.
With regards to professional and business advancement, however, the skills needed include, but are not limited to: public speaking, team working, time management and organizational skills.
If technical skills are not properly fine-tuned and refined through the acquisition and perfection of these skills, output will always be subpar.
Production is greatly influenced by how efficiently a technical skill can be delivered, and delivery is directly affected by the usage, or lack thereof, of soft skills.
Looking at this, it remains a mystery that Soft Skills aren’t taught in most formal education systems. Clearly, being exposed to certain skills early in life will put one ahead by several steps.
As some states in the United States of America and other countries attempt to integrate soft skills into their syllabi, Nigerian graduates and business owners have to make a deliberate effort to acquire these much-needed skills.
For starters, there are many resources such as books that can help. In this digital age, resources are plentiful and easily accessible on the internet.
However, it’s important to note that soft skills form a real skill set that majorly needs professional tutoring to master. There are courses available for this purpose.
Interacting or aligning oneself with people who have these skills, may also be helpful.
For example, if you have a boss or a supervisor that takes time management very seriously, you are likely to learn time management ethics through him.
This requires that we all remain teachable, and consistent in the quest for knowledge.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.