Focus on soft skills

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Introduction

This paper will discuss training and development of employees and focus on soft skills. This will be compare the literature with case studies and conclude on the benefits of training in organisations.

Skills of employees are broken down into two main headings, hard (technical) that allow them to perform the tasks that make up the role, and soft skills that encourage interactions, with colleagues, peers and customers. This paper has concluded that both skills need to be present to gain the most from the customer relationship, although soft skills will increase the benefit of hard skills, they allow the communication of technical skills.

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Soft skills are the interaction between individuals, which includes communication and empowerment, autonomy and decision making. Soft skills are discussed as the last competitive edge organisations can posses, that add value. This skills are difficult to assess, many are already present in employees, but not nurtured.

The theorist during the early 1990’s discussed soft skills from a management perspective; it was discussed as the hidden value (or skill) that organisations could offer. This perspective has now changed, to one of marketing theory, discussed in areas such as relationship marketing and customer value.

This is opinion by marketers is that by encouraging soft skills in employees it will add value to the product. Marketing theory discusses that customer loyalty can offer the organisation repeat business; this is valuable as it utilises economies of scale, lowering marketing and production costs. This is a cost effective method to maintain and increase business, leading to a higher level of revenue, but it requires the organisation understanding what the customer requires from this relationship.

The question raised at this point, is should customer loyalty be taken for granted, or can it be effected by actions from the organisation, therefore should it have resources ploughed into it. Can employees be trained to meet the needs of the customer? Can organisations build on this through skill utilisation of the human resource, can training affect the relationship, and will lack of training have a negative affect on this. The skills that are needed are classified as soft, in contrast to the hard technical skills that are required for job performance.

At first the area researched was the customer’s opinion of their loyalty, why they made repeat purchases and what actually influenced their decisions. This area proved subjective, they enjoyed the experience of purchasing, and often attributed to the organisations representative.

It then followed to look at the skills of organisations in further depth, studying the skills of their representatives, and how the training and developing of soft skills could add to this relationship.

Literature states that the evaluation of training is neglected, although it must be noted that there is no universal method that can be employed.

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