‘Soft skills’ are becoming increasingly important in the financial services sector which is contending with disruptive business models from non-traditional players such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, as well as digital transformation and growing demands from customers who expect a seamless omnichannel experience.
‘Soft skills’ are essentially interpersonal or people skills. They basically help people interact in the workplace and with customers and external stakeholders, including decision making capabilities, effective communication skills, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, collaboration, relationship development and so forth. Such skills are an essential pre-requisite when it comes to leadership development. They can help engage employees in digital transformation programmes, for example, and inspire innovation. Soft skills can help enhance all areas of an organization. Leaders with good soft skills can motivate teams which can translate into improved customer service and better sales.
New digital strategies are dependent on soft skills. Cognitive and emotional empathy skills, for example, are important in understanding people’s attitude to change, driving business strategies and transforming processes. According to Deloitte, soft skill intensive occupations will account for two thirds of all jobs by 2030.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs study sheds further light on the situation. As technology rapidly shifts the barriers between tasks carried out by humans and those by machines and algorithms it is pushing the global labour market through an era of phenomenal change. Proficiency in new technologies is only one part of the equation. Human skills such as initiative, persuasion, critical thinking and negotiation will increase in value alongside complex problem solving. Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence will also be in demand the study maintains. Why? Because automaton, artificial intelligence and robotics may be able to respond, analyze and predict against data they are fed– but they can’t deliver the empathy and compassion that a human is capable of.
The importance of interpersonal skills
The key to success in the digital age is to ensure that employees acquire or are re-skilled in soft skills alongside the ‘hard skills’ training required for their roles. The most efficient way of doing this is to provide just-in-time, bite size training and to say goodbye to long, boring training sessions that are too general to be personalized and not at all engaging to today’s learner.
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