Soft Skills enhancement is a lifelong credential
IEEE rewards its members by helping them enhance their soft skills through its multiple activities
According to Forbes “Soft Skills Are The Key To Finding The Most Valuable Employees”.
Even though enhancing our hard skills, such as statistical analysis, SEO/SEM marketing, software development, data mining, network and information systems, and so on, are very important. Enhancing also soft skills such as, communication, time management, financial literacy, problem-solving and decision-making or legal literacy are also critical. In fact, a study from Boston College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan found that soft skills training brought a 256 percent net return on investment, while productivity and retention was boosted by 12% to the workers who received the training.
Many may wonder “What are Soft Skills”?
The Collins English Dictionary defines “soft skills” as desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.
But how can someone’s soft skills be enhanced, and how IEEE helps us on that?
IEEE covers numerous activities, through its communities, societies, affinity groups, sections, student branches etc, in which youngers and olders from different fields of interests, different countries, and different time-zones are being asked to work together. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report “demographic upheavals have made the workforce both younger and older, as well as more diverse. Millennials now make up more than half the workforce, and they bring high expectations for a rewarding, purposeful work experience, constant learning and development opportunities, and dynamic career progression. At the same time, Baby Boomers working into their 70s and 80s are being challenged to adapt to new roles as mentors, coaches, and often subordinates to junior colleagues. Also, the global nature of business has made the workforce more diverse, demanding a focus on inclusion and shared beliefs to tie people together.” IEEE is a great example of what these research is showing.
Soft skills can be developed , and IEEE is the best opportunity for everyone to enhance its soft skills, by being an active IEEE member and be part of teams. From serving as a Director to being a Committee or a Student Branch chair, strategic planning, organizing annual meetings, leading discussions, building consensuses, mentoring new volunteers, planning budgets, are some of the tasks an IEEE member has to face when being in a team. Definitely these are not easy tasks someone has to come along with, when the necessary skills are not developed yet. On the other hand it is a great opportunity for someone to work hard and develop them.
Many events are being held every year throughout the IEEE, which require specific soft skills in order to run. These skills can be for management, promotional, organizational, or communication purposes.
A simple example is following.
Lets say a student branch is organizing an IEEE Day event. Some needed soft skills are:
- Time management
- Resources management
- Work under pressure
In order for the event to be held, a team will be set to run the event. The team has to set priorities of what has to be done, who will do each task, and set the date of the event if it is different from the official. The team has to communicate with each other, so everyone can be updated with the latest feedback of each task, and everyone know the flow of the processes. The team will have a leader who will be responsible to manage all sub-tasks. The team will be working under pressure when the tasks are being delayed, or not enough time is left for pending issues. The team will have to promote their event, so it can gain awareness and when the date comes an audience will join.
Soha Jawabreh is an IEEE member for more than 10 years, and as she says “Since I volunteered with IEEE in 2005, I started to gain new skills without noticing them, e.g. working with teams of different thinking and minds; this has huge influence on me as I started to realize that I need to respect all opinions although they might contradict my beliefs and ideas. Another great skill I gained was writing. I started to write for IEEE since 2008 in Region 8 News Newsletter. It helped in building my professional network. I started to communicate with the Executives and members in UAE and this helped in consolidate the relations with them which built the trust and confidence between each other. In addition to the communication skills, problem solving skills as well as flexibility and adaptability.”
Further than that, IEEE helps in building women’s self confidence. Before joining IEEE, Sahar Slimi wasn’t taking the initiative, “A 4 years IEEE membership has a big impact in my life and a huge changement in my personality. I was a shy girl avoiding being into the light and taking the initiative. My first challenge was presenting my student branch in a national meeting in front of hundred of people. Since that, I have been challenging myself. Now thanks to my journey as an IEEE member, I am known by great personal skills such as : Strong work ethic, Communication skills, Creative problem solving, Time management,TeamWork and Leadership.”
Through IEEE you can understand your limits and set new ones, but also you can realize who you really are as a person, by being part in teams, managing difficulties and moreover be inspired from others and also inspire others. This is what happened with Asim Koroglu, “I discovered myself being an IEEE member. Be part of a team: Working with a team is a big opportunity, because you notice which are your true abilities, shortcomings, communication capability and much more. And also you can develop all this abilities with your team friends. Manage a project: Projects have many and different steps. And all these steps have different sub-problems. If you manage a project you can acquire new abilities while working to find solutions for these problems.And you can discover your leadership spirit.Take inspiration: I think all people must follow some platforms, magazine, people, projects… about their specific interests.”
Enhancing our soft skills can benefit us in many ways, but no matter what, it is important to remember that Soft Skills enhancement is a lifelong credential!