Soft skills are necessary for the successes of future hospitality leaders. Soft skills serve as a conduit to the promotion of productive and efficient performance in today’s work environment. Soft skills are often spoken by many professionals, but the origin or understanding of soft skills is rarely broached. It is spoken in a matter of fact fashion, implying that receivers of the words should instinctively comprehend the symbology of “soft skills.” Contrary to popular belief, I know that many people are unaware of its meaning and relevancy in hospitality; but ultimately, in practical everyday endeavors. Soft skills are crucial to our personal and professional lives, and every educator should be committed to fostering environments that inspire the development of soft skills.
Hopefully, you are pensively peering at your computer screen, acknowledging the value of soft skills and clutching a pen to share this information with all of your colleagues and constituents. Now that I have your attention, we will discuss the origin and working definition of soft skills. In a nutshell, the United States (U.S.) military introduced the term soft skills in 1968. The U.S. identified hard skills as those that required physical abilities measured by an objective-based test or visually-observable metric. However, military leaders noticed that other immeasurable abilities were needed to lead individuals to accomplish technical tasks and operational functions. This dichotomy birthed the notion of “soft skills” or intangible skills needed to convey messages or to lead individuals to utilize hard skills within a given work environment.
The origin and a working definition have been discussed, but it is still vital to expound on some notable soft skills and its relevance to hospitality classrooms. Some common soft skills that impact the efficiency and success of hospitality work milieus are leadership, confidence, communication, listening, self-efficacy, and team work, to name a few. The beauty of this blog expansion on soft skills is that soft skills can be taught and mirrored in any classroom setting. The first requirement is to construct our classrooms with my backwards four-step modality: intended outcome, create objectives that target outcomes, design activities that promote those soft skills, and facilitate discussions. For example, what should students know prior to existing our classroom? When I ask myself that question, I instantly rely on my inherit teaching philosophy (e.g., your philosophy should guide everything you do in your classroom). My philosophy question is what hard skills and soft skills students should my students know that will benefit them, personally and professionally for the rest of their lives?
Once I recognize those soft skills since this blog is about soft skills, I will construct objectives and conscious lesson plans that inspire the development of chosen soft skills. For example, I might identify team work, leadership, or self-efficacy (e.g., belief that one can complete any given task) as those soft skills, prompting the development of team projects or in-class activities. Within those team activities, I would encourage every student to own their roles and demonstrate elements of leadership in every specified role. Also, I would periodically produce obstacles that force teams to abandon, adjust, and adopt strategies to build on their self-efficacy skills. The key is to unlock their greatness with my backwards four-step modality: outcome, objectives, activities, and facilitate.
My charge to you phenomenal instructors is to remain great and to focus on developing your students’ soft skills with an inherit love for teaching and for making learning a fun endeavor while realizing your “love” and “desire for fun learning” are soft skills.
How will you develop soft skills among your followers, students, or employees?
Dr. James Arthur Williams