“I have been working in companies of various sizes for 20 years, the last 15 years in top positions, mainly in advanced technology businesses. I have recruited hundreds of people in my life and I see how much the requirements for employees are changing both in startups and in corporations. For example, recently I have noticed that soft skills (stress resistance, communication and creative skills, etc. – editor’s note) are practically not inferior in importance to hard skills (professional skills directly – editor’s note) and often become a decisive factor when choosing a candidate for a position. Which soft skills are important? I can distinguish five main qualities that I believe are extremely important for the success of an employee.
ADAPTABILITY AND FLEXIBILITY
In addition to being innovative, tech companies have a significant amount of uncertainty: when you launch a new product, you cannot be 100% certain in advance that it will be successful. Therefore, you need to be able to quickly adapt to any situation, be ready to radically change the entire business strategy and immediately take action. Here you need to be able to work without overclocking, quickly grasp the essence of the matter and adapt to new formats, plans and strategies. To successfully do business today, you must always look further, be one step ahead, adjusting your product and strategy to the current market demands. In Silicon Valley, many startups go through a pivot – a sudden reversal of the business model, in which the ability to change something dramatically in their approach to improve its effectiveness is important. But this approach is now relevant not only for the IT industry – companies of all sectors are transforming, building more mobile structures and operating models, so maximum flexibility is required from employees. In other words, a person must have an entrepreneurial approach to work and be able to quickly rebuild on new rails.
OUTSIDE THE FRAMEWORK OF YOUR ROLE
It is clear that in a small company it is difficult to remain isolated, since many roles in the team at some point begin to expand and overlap. But even in global corporations, especially in times of crisis, like now, people are always needed who can do little more than what they are paid for. Those who are ready to “work for themselves and also for that guy.” Such people are loved by managers and are more often promoted up the career ladder. Such people can quickly understand the responsibilities of related functions and be ready to add value to the business. For example, if in our Viber earlier different teams were engaged in marketing and sales, today marketing helps to sell, and sales – to promote. In addition to reporting, financiers are involved in investor relations and product analytics, and developers often throw up ideas for promotion. There are many examples of this combination of functions in all industries.
TEAMWORK AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
In behavioral interviews at companies like Google and Microsoft, HRs are always testing conflict strategies and teamwork. In global corporations, alignment with corporate culture and the ability to interact with colleagues is even more important than professional skills. If you are seven inches in the forehead, make amazing projects and bring 150% of the result, but at the same time constantly pull the blanket over yourself, do not accept criticism and openly point out the mistakes of others – you have no place in international brands. Therefore, it is so important to learn how to work with people in the same team and find an approach to them, even if you do not like them, openly work through and discuss the negative, accept feedback, and be able to cope with frustration when others do something wrong. And also in the conditions of multitasking and tight deadlines, do not be afraid to take responsibility, do more than is expected of you, and not say “this is not mine, but your job.” It will be much easier to resolve issues in a team if, in a sense, become a support for your colleagues, since you yourself will be able to get their support at the right time.
ABILITY TO WORK WITH DATA
In any business, it is now important to have analytical skills. Namely: be able to collect data, understand how and what they affect, and make decisions based on them. In the West, corporations have long since switched to a data-driven approach to decision-making, and such a culture is beginning to develop in many countries. Instead of “the director likes this ad,” marketers run A / B testing when real consumers are shown, for example, in
There are different banners on the network, and then the number of clicks for each is analyzed to select the ad module with the highest conversion. Similarly, for opening stores, for example, traffic assessment systems are used based on data from mobile operators, the number of passing cars, and the population density in the area. In many, even small, companies, systems for collecting information about customers, products, feedback modules, and internal analytics are developing. Each person in the team must understand the importance of data as a kind of navigator for business development.
They relate not only to the ability to interact with colleagues within the team, but also to external communications – the skills of public speaking and self-presentation, the ability to communicate with partners, investors and, of course, clients. Today, the competition in business is enormous, and the ability to build effective interaction, find the right points of contact with the client, which will make him return to the company’s services or product again and again, is the key to a successful business. Here it will also not be superfluous to note the knowledge of English. A foreign language opens up a career for you not only in Western companies and in other large corporations, where all the tops are simply required to speak English. It is also an opportunity to enter the global career market in the future if you are interested in moving and working from anywhere in the world.
Even if at the moment you feel that some of these skills are underdeveloped, you should not despair. It is quite possible to pump them, and there are several quite effective ways:
The first and easiest way is to train the necessary skills yourself. You can start by assessing your soft skills. There are various tests for this, for example the Hogan test, Gallup, MBTI. You can pass these tests and understand your personality type, identify your problematic sides, and what exactly needs to be developed. There are now many online courses to develop almost any career skills, both from private expert practitioners and from well-known universities and training companies. Take a look at the educational platforms Coursera or Udemy, for example. Here you can even find free courses in almost any field. Self-development includes books, master classes, training, reading tapes of career bloggers and other useful content.
International companies have a practice of appointing buddies for newbies. “Buddy”, literally “friend”, is a person who helps you to join the company, to understand how everything works inside, not only in terms of regulations and procedures, but also important political things, customs and orders. Some people call it mentoring, others call it coaching, but the essence remains the same. If your company did not give you such a person, try to find one yourself, in your company or in your environment. This should be a person with extensive experience, ideally if in the same industry or performing similar functions, who will help you learn new things, show you how to solve new problems for you, prompt and direct the vector of your development in the right direction.
It is very helpful to receive honest feedback from your supervisor and from the team you work with. At the same time, it is important to organize this in a systematic manner, and not in the format of separate comments on selected tasks. Constant feedback will allow you to understand what tasks you are doing well, which ones still need to be worked on, and how to change your approach. If your company is still far from a formal management system, I recommend that you independently appoint weekly one-on-one with your manager at the same time and send an invitation to him on the calendar. At these meetings, you bring a short report on the work done for the week, showing your successes, and also, if something does not work out, ask for advice, where the leader corrects you and directs you in the right direction. Also for you, this is the time when you can share some of your ideas so that you will be noticed and taken on some new project.
Participation in group projects
This approach will definitely allow you to improve your skills in areas that you don’t usually work with. Try to find out if your company has cross-functional projects that affect different departments and apply to participate in them. This practice is perfect for professionals who usually work in isolation. It is also a great career opportunity. I am often asked how to grow from a specialist position to a leader, if there are no vacancies or you have recently come, and if you have never had the opportunity to manage a team to show yourself, try to become a process or project leader first. If you cope, it is much more likely that you will then be given people to guide you.
Working with a psychologist
Other things that interfere with a successful career in the field of soft skills can be worked out with a psychologist individually or you can go through the now popular online training and marathons. Problems such as fear of public speaking and presentations, inadequate response to criticism, excessive emotionality, inability to resolve conflicts, fear of being a bad leader, difficulties in giving honest feedback to subordinates – all this is solved through the elimination of psychological problems and work with a professional …
In conclusion, I would like to add that in addition to professional and personal skills, high employee motivation is very important for any company. Enthusiasm at work often “beats” experience, so an employee with glowing eyes and genuine interest in the job is much more likely to move up the career ladder.