I'm not a big fan of the term “soft skills.” Maybe it is the word “soft.” Whenever I mention “soft skills” people seem to act as if I want to feminize them or remove the testosterone from their body and inject them with female hormones. I get the opportunity to meet about 1,500 service or installation technicians every year. When I speak about interpersonal and professional education, I avoid the term “soft.” Instead I call the training, “Understanding the client journey” or “Meeting the needs of the customer.”
Since some of my classes are required by the state, I get to present to a lot of people who otherwise would never attend any type of training and usually are not happy that they have to spend a full day on Saturday, without pay, sitting in a room with 50 other people listening to someone tell them they should be kinder, gentler or “soft.”
I believe most folks who are young and new to the trade are looking for a job that basically pays their bills, and keeps them active socially. Yes, I did say “keeps them active socially,” since the driving factor in the younger employees life is their social status, not long term career goals. Most have never dreamed of becoming a professional business owner, who may be operating a multi-million dollar business. It is just beyond the realm of possibility in their mind. This is because they have never seen it in real life and have learned to despise those who have done well. Instead of doing something to make a dream become reality, they continue to limit their own potential and point the finger at and blame their lack of growth on “Them.” “Them” being those who have done well. These same people don’t put a big priority on being “soft” either. The priority is making it through the week with the least amount of hassle necessary and if they are lucky, made enough money to get that special something they have been dreaming about. Every once in a while a shining start appears in the group and is eventually shut down by peer pressure and lack of positive feedback from leadership.
My solution or recommendation? To those of you who have done well, become mentors to those you’ve brought in to the business who you see may have the willpower and drive to succeed. Sitting in a room listening to someone talk or watching a video won't do it. They need to experience it. They need to be able to see the difference between success and failure. I've mentored dozens of people with various skills and backgrounds, all of them have become tremendously successful and we have become friends for life.
Success doesn’t come from having someone tell you what you need to do according to their plan during a four-hour workshop in a crowded room. Success comes from seeing and experiencing it by spending time with someone who has lived it. I’ve always said, “You’ll never be any more successful than the most successful person you know.”