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EVALUATION


CASE FOR SOFT SKILLS


MAKING A Andy Lothian looks at the pounds, pence and sense behind self-awareness h


R and training teams are tasked with the role of identifying, cultivating and


developing their organisation’s talent. For these seasoned professionals, the business value of developing people is clear. Unfortunately, a large portion of these talented professionals’ time is spent helping to make that same connection clear to key stakeholders within their own organisations. During budget reviews, develop-


ment programmes and the promise of ‘soft skills’ can often lose funding to functions that have a stronger perceived contribution to ‘hard results’ and essential business operations. Te intensity by which HR functions are scrutinised does not appear to be easing up, either. Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report reveals that “60% of executives in this year be- lieve they are holding HR accountable


14 | June 2017 |


for talent and business results – both a higher proportion than a year ago.” While HR functions are challenged


to connect people initiatives to business performance, executive leaders are faced with a different set of challenges. In addition to their individual leadership responsibilities, every C-suite is charged with making choices about what company assets to invest in and what projects to prioritise. In his 2012 book Te Advantage, author Patrick Lencioni says, “An organisation’s strategy is nothing more than the collection of intentional decisions a company makes to give itself the best chance to thrive and differentiate from competitors.” Holding the future success of the business in their hands, every C-suite has to fund what they believe will yield the greatest return. In a 2013 article entitled Soft Skills in the C-Suite1


Holmstrom, says “Organisations really


have two things to work with. Tey have money and they have people. Leaders have to manage the financial side, but that’s only half the equation.” As a person who holds dual roles


as chief executive and head of people, I’m acutely aware of the intricacies of this complex dynamic. I’ve never seen a boardroom make a decision not to invest in professional development because they don’t care about their people. What can happen, rather, is that people initiatives lose funding to other business investments because the case for people just isn’t as compelling and clear as other business cases. While this can surely be deflating


Marie


for HR functions, the solution lies within their control. Heavily anecdotal arguments just don’t hold up anymore – executive leaders simply have too many other deserving investments. A survey respondent in the Workforce


@TrainingJournal


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