A Question of Mind Set

A few months ago I had written about the need for employees to develop their soft skills. Such skills sit alongside the academic qualification and the expertise of employees. Without such soft skills, academic qualifications and technical expertise become an irrelevant asset in aa individual.

I had highlighted the need for persons to have decision-making skills, communication and inter-personal skills, self-organisation skills. They need to have an appreciation of the financial dimension of every decision they make. They need to be quality conscious and to be customer centric. They need to have leadership skills and able to manage their resources well. They need to understand the objectives of the organisation where they work and what contribution they can make for those objectives to be achieved.

Today I would like to add another dimension. One may learn communications skills or self-organisation skills. However one's ability to use those skills depends on one's attitude, one's mind set. Let's be clear skills matter and they matter a lot. Both technical skills and soft skills matter.

One's skill set is about what one can do. A person can prove that one has them. In the case of technical skills, one has certificates to prove the acquisition of such skills, while in the case of soft skills, one's behaviour proves that one has them.

Mind set is something different. It has to do with what thinks and what one believes. For example for a person who has a customer-facing job, it is not just about putting on a nice smile or greeting a customer warmly. It has to do with the way one thinks. And the way one thinks, is highly influenced by one's academic qualifications, one's technical expertise, one's soft skills, but also by one's personal experiences and one's natural instincts.

So going back to the example of a person having a customer-facing job, it is useless for that person to be able to greet one's customers warmly if deep down one is not a trusting person. One may know all the rules of customer care, but would still be unable to put them into practice if one has an instinctive dislike of people.

And this is what mind set is all about. It colours one's way of thinking and therefore one' behaviour. It is not a question of moods. Moods change according to circumstances. But one's mind set very often remains the same. Skills can be enhanced or acquired. However mind set remains what it is.

One may ask why mind set is so important since an employee may have all the required skills and therefore, for a recruiter, would have ticked all the boxes. Moreover it is known that it is very difficult to assess, let alone predict, mind set.

When employers are asked what they look for in an employee they invariably speak of qualifications, experience and soft skills. Once they are confronted with the issue of mind set, they first stop to think and then they accept that they would rather employ a person with the right mind set and a lower skills set, than the other way round.

We also need to appreciate that today CV's tell you very little, apart from the fact they all look the same since most persons use the Europass format. In any case most persons have learnt that they need to have someone vet their CV before they send it. We also know that many people prepare themselves well for an interview and so manage to demonstrate their ability to communicate, to project good self-organisation, etc.

Thus the distinguishing factor becomes mind set – the person's attitude to do the job the right way. With the right mind set, an average person can become a star employee. With the wrong mind set what looked like being a star employee becomes a problem employee.

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