Soft or Work Skills Development of Students for Employment

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Soft or Work Skill Development

We often hear talk about generic work skills, soft skills or digital related, but what are they and why are they important?

Hard skills may shortlist you for a job interview, but soft skills will have you selected, and may include the following which could also be described as personal attributes or selection criteria:

 

Communication, Organization, Teamwork, Punctuality, Critical Thinking, Social Skills, Creativity, Interpersonal Communication, Adaptability and Friendliness (Berger 2016).

 

According to Harvard Business Review article ‘DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES: The Soft Skills of Great Digital Organizations’:

 

Smart organizations have recognized that introducing new technology into the workplace isn’t about hardware or software: it’s about wetware, also known as human beings. If you want to be the kind of nimble business that can make the most of successive waves of tech innovation, you need human beings who can adapt to change. That means equipping each person in your enterprise with the skills and mindset that will help them successfully adapt whenever you introduce new tools like Slack, Basecamp, or even Google Drive into your workplace. But what exactly are these digital skills? They may be more familiar and low-tech than you think (Samuel 2016).

 

These could include goal focus, collaboration, communication, learning, troubleshooting and enjoyment.

 

Another view from traditional work of soft skills would designate planning workload, communication, reports, presentations, collecting/using information, note taking, data literacy, projects, ethics, problem solving, decision making, team work, meetings, negotiation, stress management and reviewing one’s own personal skills and development (Bingham and Drew 1999).

 

How does one develop these soft or work skills for work, community and life?

 

According to Open Colleges Australia the following tips are needed to teach students soft skills:

30 Tips to Teach Soft Skills

  1. Give students authentic choices about how they’re going to learn and be assessed.
  2. Provide a learning environment where trust, initiative, and taking risks are encouraged.
  3. Hold all students to the same high standards.
  4. Model perseverance by not giving up on students.
  5. Support students by helping them find their own way.
  6. Demonstrate alternate paths to content mastery.
  7. Teach to the whole person (not just the “student”).
  8. Treat your students as mature individuals, even when they aren’t following instructions.
  9. Talk about tailoring communication styles for different audiences.
  10. 1Build students’ interpersonal skills through an environment of humility and respect.
  11. Help students practise taking on different roles in different situations.
  12. Differentiate opportunities for personal growth and opportunities for team growth.
  13. Cultivate a sense of responsibility through meaningful and unique contribution.
  14. Assign group exercises that give people the opportunity to speak, listen, write, organise, and lead.
  15. Assess learning through interactive evaluations that demand real-world demonstrations of learning.
  16. Challenge students’ reactions to new obstacles and situations.
  17. Emphasise that the same solution doesn’t necessarily work every time, even in the same situation.
  18. Incorporate exercises in delayed gratification in order to build persistence and grit.
  19. Start grading students on how well they listen to their peers.
  20. Discuss the importance of social-emotional intelligence in the real world.
  21. Design opportunities for students to build and demonstrate resilience.
  22. Make learning a personal experience, highlighting the way education shapes personality.
  23. Create opportunities for students to innovate, both on their own and in groups.
  24. Draw attention to the differences between online and in-person social etiquette.
  25. Reward students who are willing to admit they’re wrong.
  26. Recognise students who are committed to communicating ideas to others.
  27. Hold brainstorm sessions in which students list the possible uses for various soft skills.
  28. Help build motivation through principles of self-reliance (read: Emerson, Thoreau).
  29. Keep an open ear and encourage students to develop new thoughts and ideas they may have.
  30. Develop learning ability through greater awareness of individual learning processes (Briggs 2015).

 

Teaching, training or tutoring approaches to learning need to be centred upon student centred andragogy for adults not teacher centred pedagogy for children, see related article blog FLIPPED Model – Pedagogy or Andragogy in Higher Education Teaching Learning.

 

 

References:

 

Berger, G 2016, Data Reveals The Most In-demand Soft Skills Among Candidates, LinkedIn Talent Blog, 30 August, viewed 30 March 2018, < https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2016/most-indemand-soft-skills >

 

Bingham, R & Drew, S 1999, Key Work Skills, 1st edn, Gower Publishing Ltd., Aldershot.

 

Briggs, S 2015, 30 Tips to Cultivate Soft Skills in Your Students, Inform Ed – Open Colleges, 1 May, viewed 30 March 2018, < https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/30-ways-to-cultivate-soft-skills-in-your-students >

 

Samuel, A 2016, ‘DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES: The Soft Skills of Great Digital Organizations’, Harvard Business Review, 5 February, viewed 21 March 2018,
< https://hbr.org/2016/02/the-soft-skills-of-great-digital-organizations >

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Business Communication Theory – Application for Professional Practice

Communication Theory and Professional Practice 1.2

Subject of Business Communication

 

Prescribed text referred to in these notes is Mohan et al, 2008, Communicating as Professionals, Edition 2, Cengage Learning, Melbourne. These notes are for the use of Bachelor of Business students with purchased copies of the text, not to be copied or sold separately.

For similar blog articles about subject of business communication click through.

Preview

 

What are the rules for good communication according to the transmission model, and what are the pitfalls?

 

The elements required of a professional communicator include the need to be clear and responsible, organised message, optimal use of medium, allows for receiver and environment, and allows response to check understanding.

 

Understanding different types of communication, views, attitudes and opinions that society, groups, people, consumers, clients, cultures, voters and customers have, with different preferences and ways of communicating, is essential for effective communication.    Accordingly, when we as a professional plan and prepare for communicating a message we must take all these elements or variables into account, if we want to achieve our purpose.

 

A simpler example follows, in communicating instructions with purpose, ‘Purposeful communication’.  Which is the best and why?  In English we have an expression for effective communication of systems and instructions, ‘KISS keep it simple and short’

 

Another example, too many students are gathering out front smoking cigarettes, leaving the area untidy, obstructing pedestrians and giving Stott’s a bad image in Lygon Street.  Write a message for the notice board to change this behaviour.

 

Finally, to show the importance of clear and purposeful communication in the workplace or professional life see Case Study 1.3 ‘Structuring the message’.  What is wrong with the message and how should it be communicated, i.e. purposefully keeping in mind ‘KISS’.

 

Transmission Model

Shannon Weaver Transmission Model of Communication

Shannon Weaver Communication Model

Standing here lecturing I am the information source, my vocal chords/mouth the transmitter, speech is the channel, your ears/hearing the receiver and you the destination.  What happens is that ideas, facts, data or commands are sent as a message, i.e. relates between source and transmitter, and then receiver and destination.

 

A message has content, structure such as explanation or narrative, and code e.g. language, images, music or body movement, depending upon sources and destinations.  Different sources could be academic, lecturer or teach versus research student, university student and school pupil.

 

Medium or channels are numerous sensory bases including face to face verbal, written, telephone, musical, poetic etc. and now the information communication technology (ICT) revolution a potential mix of all. Important, is the choice of channel(s) to convey the message (s).

 

How is communication carried between source and transmitter to the receiver and destination? (Medium/channel) Give examples, advantages and disadvantages?

 

What do we call an answer or response?  Does it always exist in communication? Give examples

Feedback Communication Model Loop

Schramm’s Circular Model of Communication

Schramm’s model is logical continuation of response or feedback, i.e. circular continuous and exemplified by encoding and decoding through various signs e.g. question and answer in conversation, which allows immediacy and accuracy.

 

What is a loop? What are examples of signals carried within loop?  In customer service this occurs whether face to face, over the telephone, online messenger or automated telephone service.  The latter example of an automated telephone service is purely technical form of communication and can be used to lodge a simple tax return, but if the message is not decoded, interpreted or encoded correctly, then you can defer to a live operator.  What are other examples of this communication working, and also where this would not be possible, and why? Would this be suitable for a detective interviewing a suspect, or a doctor attempting to diagnose a patient, why or why not?

 

Flow of communication generally in one direction or from one source such as gossip, rumour or the grapevine but with commensurate distortions though omission, alteration and addition.

 

Another example is your choice of study destination, agent, courses, visas, immigration and accommodation?  Who did you seek advice or suggestions from and from where did their advice come from?  Why might people use the ‘grapevine’ in preference to other sources e.g. official websites or government offices? What are the issues or potential problems with gaining informal advice from the ‘grapevine’?  Are there other ways the ‘grapevine’ can be used professionally e.g. ‘viral marketing’ by the advertising industry?

 

Summary:

 

What are the rules for good communication according to the transmission model, and what are the pitfalls?

 

Transmission model requires good communication through well thought out objective(s), message structure, optimum medium, socio cultural elements, eliciting and managing feedback, and keep direct to minimise distortion.  Because it is dependent upon the person for transmission, and subjective regarding the message, meaning and other elements are not taken into account when communication takes place, or too simplistic.  In a professional context the message must be very clear and checked for accuracy, while personally or socially be aware of the pitfalls and do not believe everything you are told, again check.

 

Reference List:

 

Mohan T., McGregor H., Saunders S. & Archee R., 2008, Communicating as Professionals, 2nd Edition, Cengage Learning Australia P/L, Melbourne.

Schramm, W. 1954, ‘How communication works’, in Schramm, W. & Roberts D. F. (eds), The process and effects of mass communication, University of llinois Press, Chicago.

Shannon, C. E. & Weaver, W. 1949, The mathematical theory of communication, University of Illinois Press, Chicago.

 

 

 

Business Communication Theory and Practice

Communication Theory and Professional Practice – Subject of Business Communication

 

Prescribed text referred to in these notes is Mohan et al, 2008, Communicating as Professionals, Edition 2, Cengage Learning, Melbourne. These notes are for the use of Bachelor of Business students with purchased copies of the text, not to be copied or sold separately.

Preview

 

  • What is your career objective and what skills will you need, and how will you carry out any future professional role?
  • How should communication theory help professionals?
  • Can you think of examples of professional communication?

 

Education or study is one example of a communication field or system including teachers, administration, marketing, agents and students, here in Melbourne, in your home country and different locations within.  This also includes study materials, promotional brochures, application forms, websites, assignments, telephone calls, classes, online study, informal conversations, books, newspapers, email and more.

 

This is an example of who, what and where, but there is another element, how?  How is communication conducted amongst all these elements to result in effective communication, but then what is effective communication?

 

Case Study 1.1 Mohan et al, ‘Communication ethics in the professions’.  From the keywords in the title of the case study, i.e. ‘communication’, ‘ethics’ and ‘profession’ can you think what the case study will be about?  The title probably suggests this case study will question the importance of ethical (behaviour) and communication by all professions and occupations.  Why is ethical behaviour important in professional life and how does it affect communication?

 

Next from reading the heading of the article extract, ‘Self-interest detracts from lustre of the professions’ can you imagine more detail and content of the case study?  Basic analysis of the heading would suggest it will look at how society respects professionals, but this trust is sometimes broken due unethical behaviour, in pursuit of personal advancement, whether that be a job promotion or profits.  What is the solution?

 

According to Ferguson of Harvard University:

 

In my view, business education – and not only in business schools – needs urgently to be reformed so future bankers learn to strive for more than just the “maximisation of shareholder value” (code for driving up the share price by fair means or foul).  I believe the next generation of financiers need something like a Hippocratic oath to guide their conduct, along the lines proposed by Harvard Business School students.  It is no accident Warburg thought of himself as a “financial physician”.  The world needs money doctors, not investment bankers focused myopically on “the numbers”. (Ferguson, 2010).

 

In 2010 BP oil company had an oil rig explosion and associated pollution disaster possibly one of the worst in the planet’s history.  After the disaster what was being communicated by BP, media, environmentalists, society and politicians?  Was it the same information and message?  If differences why?  What ethical issues were involved?  Are these issues and the standards or ethics we judge them by absolutely clear?

 

What is communication theory?

 

Communication theory has been defined as:

 

  1. The transmission of messages, encoded by sender, sent through a medium and decoded by a receiver, e.g. a newspaper article or collection of channels in the media as in the previous examples.
  2. Social interaction through messages helping people to relate to each other through “taking turns” e.g. we tried to analyse and understand the communication in the previous examples by discussion or conversation.
  3. Reciprocal creation of meaning in a context through language and other “symbolic forms” e.g. graphic images of oil covered pelicans and other wildlife on the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, oil gushing from the well, President Obama on the news and unemployed oil workers protesting through print, television, internet and other media created a context of meaning.
  4. Sharing of meaning through information, ideas and feelings both encoded and decoded by the group e.g. online social media and other interactive media exemplified by blogs, allows diverse sharing of views and opinions according to groups’ attitudes.

 

The latter definition includes information (perceived facts), ideas (concepts and opinions) and emotions (personal feelings) through which professional communication requires clear purpose.  The elements required of a professional communicator include the need to be clear and responsible, organised message, optimal use of medium, allows for receiver and environment, and allows response to check understanding.

 

Understanding different types of communication, views, attitudes and opinions that society, groups, people, consumers, clients, cultures, voters and customers have, with different preferences and ways of communicating, is essential for effective communication.    Accordingly, when we as a professional plan and prepare for communicating a message we must take all these elements or variables into account, if we want to achieve our purpose.

 

Reference List

 

Ferguson, N. 2010, Banking Not the Devil’s Domain, The Australian, Nationwide News P/L, Sydney.

Mohan T., McGregor H., Saunders S. & Archee R., 2008, Communicating as Professionals, 2nd Edition, Cengage Learning Australia P/L, Melbourne.