Companies reset ‘soft skill parameters’ for remote working

Some of the new-age soft skills have become more important to be successful in a remote-working environment

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It’s now given that ‘work from home’ is here to stay for ever or for long. In fact, many organisations in the technology space have already transitioned some roles to a 100 per cent remote model.

Apart from the requisite skills for each job which somewhat remains unchanged in a remote environment, the generic soft skills required for any job has experienced some alterations. New age soft skills have become important for a successful remote working practice. This has also changed the way, organisations are evaluating the employees or potential candidates for hiring.

According to a global survey, adaptable and resilient candidates, who are self-starters or self-motivators top the chart of preferred hires in a remote working environment. Time management and communication skills are the other soft skills that are a ‘must-have’ in the hopeful candidates.

“There are two skills or abilities that a manager must have in these times. First is the ability to engage and build morale in remote-working teams. Second is the agility to handle ambiguity and volatility.”

Kamlesh Dangi, group CHRO, Incred Financial Services

Talking to HRKatha, Kamlesh Dangi, group CHRO, Incred Financial Services, says that for managerial roles, they have now started to evaluate people on traits which can help them to manage and lead remote-working teams.

As per Dangi, there are two skills or abilities that a manager must have in these times. First is the ability to engage and build morale in remote-working teams. Second is the agility to handle ambiguity and volatility.

Only a person with effective communication skills can help build the morale of people and inspire them. As Dangi rightly explains, there is a difference in saying “Don’t worry about COVID, everything is fine. Let’s work’ and “We understand there is a problem at hand and the first thing in our mind should be our health. But still, we should continue to strive to perform well and deliver our best’”. The difference between the two is in acknowledging the problem and threat, and then motivating people to perform.

   “I think soft skills, such as communication skills, team work, time management or adaptability will continue to remain important, but the only thing that has changed is the way to bring these skills into practice in a remote-working environment.”

Abhay Srivastava, CHRO, IKS Health

Problems will continue to prop up, especially during such challenging times, so a manager may have to face new challenges every day. Therefore, adapting to those conditions and responding to the situation is something which is very vital at this time.

“I believe, somebody who has a bad track record of performing in a remote working role or a work- from-home scenario, may not be taken seriously by hiring managers these days” mentions Dangi.

Abhay Srivastava, CHRO, IKS Health, agrees that there are some additional abilities and soft skills that they evaluate when it comes to managerial-level employees. As mentioned by Dangi, the ability to engage teams in a virtual environment is a skill that they are looking at while hiring and also the ability to ensure productivity keeping the well-being of people a priority.

“I think soft skills, such as communication skills, team work, time management or adaptability will continue to remain important, but the only thing that has changed is the way to bring these skills into practice in a remote-working environment,” says Srivastava.

“We have moved from competency-based hiring to a value-based hiring method. Even psychometric tests are being done on a value-based assessment approach.” 

Prashant Khullar, SVP-HR, Max Life Insurance

On the other hand, Prashant Khullar, SVP-HR, Max Life Insurance, shares that during the pandemic last year, they implemented a new process to evaluate people. Now, the company has moved from competency-based hiring to a value-based hiring method. Even psychometric tests are being done on a value-based assessment approach.

Essentially, Max Life Insurance has four core values — caring, collaboration, customer obsession and growth mindset. And now, candidates are assessed on these values at the time of hiring.

The first two values sit together perfectly in these times. Employers would definitely want to hire people who are caring and collaborative at work.

In fact, Khullar shares that they have also moved to a value-based performance management system in which, individuals are rated on whether they have exhibited the core values, while performing tasks to achieve goals.

When Khullar talks about the value of caring, he emphasises on making people come forth and share their ideas because now, “we do not have faces, we just have windows to look at each other”.

“These values come from within a person. It is very important to have a sense of empathy to understand someone. It is easy to say that one is not performing, but it takes time to understand and find out the actual issues the other person is facing, which are resulting in failure to deliver,” shares Khullar.

With a lot of changes around us, the evaluation process to assess soft skills is also upgrading. While communication skills, time management, team work, problem solving and work ethic continue to remain important, some new skills, such as adaptability, empathy, and resilience have been added to this list.

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