Almost half (46%) of new recruits will fail in their jobs in the first 18 months and only 11% of them because of a lack of technical skills. So says a three-year study conducted by the global leadership training and research company Leadership IQ.
If it’s not technical skills that are the problem, then what is? Interpersonal skills are the real issue here. According to the research 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23% because of insufficient emotional intelligence, 17% because they don’t have the required motivation to excel and 15% because they possess the wrong temperament for their role.
Hiring for attitude
No wonder then that interpersonal skills have moved up the recruitment and employment agenda in recent years. Now many recruitment, HR and line managers hire for attitude rather than just technical prowess. Soft skills are in high demand.
The Leadership IQ study shows that hiring managers stand a much higher chance of picking a winner when they focus on soft skills. Of the 5,247 hiring managers involved in the research, 812 demonstrated significantly higher hiring success and they were the ones that placed importance on interpersonal and motivational issues during the interviewing process.
Employers say personality matters
Recent research from Scottish Gas found Scottish employers are really honing in on soft skills – eight in ten think job-seekers should focus on their soft skills as much as they do on their grades. More than a quarter of those businesses profiled check out a candidate’s social media profile to get a sense of their personality, with almost half of them saying they have turned down candidates because they lacked soft skills and personality.
Why are soft skills considered so important in the workplace and why are hard skills alone not enough?
Soft skills form the basis of strong, co-operative workplace relationships. They enable employees to get on with each other and to communicate well with clients, customers and business partners. They allow people to resolve difficult situations, tackle awkward conversations and consider another person’s point of view.
Soft skills are harder to teach
Many employers think it is easier to train candidates up in technical expertise, and that teaching soft skills is a lot harder. Yes, there are lots of courses, teaching material and modules that employees can access in areas such as presentation skills, performance management, communication skills and so on. But, if a candidate doesn’t possess much empathy or show a willingness to listen to others in the first place, then it can be much harder to develop those skills as they need to be developed.
When hiring for attitude, recruiters, HR and line managers want to see that a candidate is really self-motivated to do well, to work as part of a team and contribute to organisational success. They want employees to be committed, to be self starters and able to take the initiative. These are not skills that can necessarily be easily taught but they are all skills that are important in terms of employee productivity, team productivity and organisational productivity.