Hard vs Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?
There are some skills we’re just born with, they come naturally to us. Then there are the skills that we have to learn. It’s what we need to effectively fulfill our role in an organization. Consider a doctor; they undergo years of medical training to effectively treat a patient, but does that mean they’ll have a great bedside manner? Not necessarily.
These two different types of skills are called hard and soft skills, and both are essential for employees to have, and be trained in. Today, we’re going to compare both and discuss their unique impact on your organization.
Hard skills vs soft skills
What are hard skills?
Hard skills are technical skills that are job-specific. Gained through education, certifications, training, and work experience, these are taught, measurable skills that can be tested through completing exams and practical assignments.
These skills are advantageous to your organization because they can be learned, improved, and mastered over time. Not only can your employees enter your business with these skills, you can also run training sessions helping them gain and master the hard skills they need to fulfill their role.
Examples of hard skills
There’s an endless list of hard skills that every industry and job needs. Here are some common examples:
Benefits of hard skills
You need your employees to know what their role entails and understand how to fulfill it. Without the right hard skills, they’re unlikely to carry out their tasks to a high standard. However, by having the right skills, they can quickly tackle any challenges, complete tasks within a deadline, and meet expectations.
Efficient working environments go hand-in-hand with happy employees, resulting in a lower employee turnover rate, and saving you hiring costs. Having the necessary skills in-house also cuts out the need for outsourcing, saving on costs like consultation fees.
Increased employee performance
Hard skills can be measured and assessed, which is good news for managers. Areas for improvement can be pinpointed, making it easier for employees to achieve set goals.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are interpersonal skills hardwired to an individual’s personality, characterizing how they interact with other people in their workplace. They are essential as employees need to communicate effectively with coworkers and customers, organize their day-to-day projects, and motivate themselves in order to be a valued member of the team.
Examples of soft skills
Soft skills can be more ambiguous to pin down. Here are some of the most useful ones for high-performing employees:
Benefits of soft skills
This doesn’t just apply to team leads or managers. You can have other employees working as part of a team with strong leadership skills. People with this soft skill find it easy to delegate, give and receive constructive feedback, and take responsibilities that others might not feel comfortable with. They’re probably self-motivators too, which means projects are less likely to stall.
Improved problem-solving and critical thinking
Thinking outside-the-box, and instinctively knowing how to identify and overcome a problem, is a powerful ability for an employee to have. They can think on their feet, not get stuck on a task, and they can weigh different options and scenarios, to make informed decisions.
Communication and teamwork skills aren’t something to be underestimated. This feeds into a strong collaborative workplace in which employees can work together to overcome challenges and achieve goals and objectives. It also means they can effectively converse with customers and help them with any questions they might have – a must-have ability for any customer-facing team member.
Hard skills vs soft skills
Now you know the benefits of each type of skill, which one should you implement in your organization’s training strategy? Well, the answer is both.
For example, a salesperson needs to know how to use your product and effectively use your organization’s sales system – these are their hard skills. But, they also need to be able to communicate your product’s value, understand your customers’ needs, and work with other team members – these are their soft skills.
They’ll need a combination of both skill types to nail their role, and positively contribute to your business.
Hard skills can be measured, making it easier for you to hire the skills you need. However, as soft skills are less tangible, you’ll have to rely on a good interview process to ensure you have employees with a range of these skills. Look for the soft skills mentioned above when reviewing resumes, and ask for real-life examples of these skills in action from each candidate.
The most successful organizations aim to hire employees with a mix of hard and soft skills. And while it’s important to ensure your new hires will have the skills they need to hit the ground running, you’ll also need to support their learning and development to help them gain and master new hard and soft skills as they progress in their role. Balancing these complementary skill sets is essential for the success of any organization.
Does your organization have a strategy to train employees on both hard and soft skills? Let us know your process in the comments.