Part 1: Soft Skills or How “Habits of Work and Learning” are important in the workplace – Perseverance and Collaboration

Soft skills are something employers often say are lacking in the young people they are hiring. What are soft skills? They are the skills that help you KEEP your job (hard skills are the ones that GET you the job). A good thing happening in some schools is that they have adapted “habits of work and learning” into their curriculum, standards and grading. There are different “habits of work and learning” and varieties of rubrics and ways that “habits of work” are stated and assessed BUT there is a common theme that should make employers happy. This one from The Christa McAuliffe Charter School is one I liked and thought represents well what employers are looking for. There are four main principles:

PERSEVERANCE    COLLABORATION    RESPONSIBILITY    RESPECT

Reflecting on an interview I did with Ames at Jotul North America, I realized that much of his interview revolved around this important topic. I will apply the two of the four principles in this post and follow up with the others in the next.

PERSEVERANCE: I can commit to a growth mindset.

Initiation, showing your teacher, your classmates or your boss that you seek out ways to enrich or improve your learning gets explained by Ames in this way:

“Jotul has taught me how to set goals. They have various “lunch and learns” and other activities that they don’t push on you but they encourage you to partake in for personal growth. I’ve learned about writing down your goals or they don’t happen. Make sure you have short term and long term goals otherwise you are stagnant no matter where you are at. My current personal goal is to study as hard as I can under my current mentor and be in a position to fill his job when he steps aside.”

COLLABORATION: I can work effectively with others.

The interview with Ames at Jotul, has great examples of these habits. He articulated so clearly the importance of “working well with others” and why it is important in the workplace:

“I think the most important skill is playing nice with the people you work with. Being respectful, having a level of candor with your employees where you can have small talk, you can build relationships but at the end of the day you’re all here for the same reason, to make your employer profitable. The way your behavior and the way you interact with the people you work with can either make it a great workplace or it can make it a place where you try to hide for 8 hours a day. So I think showing up to work, playing nice, and having a good time, those skills, I think they might be ingrained in people’s personalities, but I think they are very crucial to making you a successful anything.”

Destination Occupation video featuring Ames’ story

What do you think about soft skills in the work place?  I’d love to hear your opinion!  Leave a comment or email me!

rachel@destinationoccupation.com

Rachel Knight, creator and principal, Destination Occupation

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