have you gone soft?
Whether its coaches focusing on how to create new synergies from soft-skills development, tests sprouting all over the place to evaluate your sensibility to people, or recruitment campaigns campaign emphasising the importance for candidates to demonstrate leadership, resilience, empathy, etc., there is no doubt: soft-skills are trending. And, if you have not yet heard the term, I’m pretty sure you are familiar with a close concept, that is, Emotional Intelligence (IE).
But what are actually “soft-skills”? If there is a “soft” side of skill, could there be a “hard” side of skills? Simply put, the appellation soft-skills refers to the set of skills one needs to conjure when evolving in society. These are not learned but acquired by someone through their different experiences ; they’re also strongly influenced by one’s personality. Some often referred to soft-skills would be: creativity, public speaking, leadership, empathy, etc. Soft-skills cannot be measured but identified, enhanced, or practised. In opposition, a “hard-skill” is what one can learn at school / at work and evaluated in a more classical approach. For instance, I can be an extraordinary mathematician but lack “behavioral intelligence” per say.
Years ago, a person was essentially judged by the diploma. Today, some firms like Adecco aim to shift the usual recruitment entry-point to solely focus on soft-skills. For their CEO for One Month program, Adecco made the candidates go though an immensely tiring but highly interesting recruitment process – to which I had the chance to participate nationally until the finale.
CEO for ONE MONTH,
what is it?
CEO for One Month is a program launched 4 years ago by Adecco, an international temps staffing firm. The goal is simple and motivated over 9 000 candidates in 2018. Anyone who enters the competition can hope to obtain this one-of-a-kind-internship: shadowing Adecco’s CEO*. After 2 months of various tasks – cover letter, phone interview in both french and english, serious game to dive into our personality, logic tests, etc. – we were 15 to come to Lyon at Adecco’s French headquarters for a bootcamp in May 2018.
Once we were selected for the Bootcamp, a last battery of tests awaited us. Among others, we went under Badenoch&Clarck and emlyon business school’s newly released “QE Pro”, a test usually reserved to managers and CEOs. From different questions and role playing, this test aims to assess one’s Emotional Intelligence.
With this new approach on recruitment, focusing on soft-skills, Adecco tries to expand its scope to attract a diversity of profiles – however, the previous targeting ensures the firm to attract highly qualified profiles in some of the country’s best schools / universities.
At first, I was seriously doubting the relevancy of this process. Coming from a more entrepreneurial background, my only experience in big firms traced back to a short internship at AccorHotels. And even though thecamp hosted and organised workshops constantly for big firms in which I took part regularly, the relationship was not the same.
The program was intense and unveiled on the spot: theatre, escape game, business case, interview, crossed-presentations and a half a day spent shadowing a board member – this particular challenge was set so we could have a first glimpse into the program. With CEO for One Month, not only does a young professional tags a CEO, he / she also gets the opportunity to express himself / herself. It’s a way for the firm to collect new insights, critiques, and solutions from an external point of view.
how do you assess soft-skills?
is the process really relevant?
Believe me, I’ve been asking myself those questions since the day I filled in the inscription form to enter the race. How do you judge something that cannot be measured? Even more in a recruitment process?
During the bootcamp, two teams of judges were shadowing us at all times. This way, they could gather information on our personalities, triggers, possible lacks. The feedback they provided us after our three-days long adventure was spot on. They had identified our strongest and weakest points throughout the bootcamp, as well as the panel of soft-skills we each possessed. From this personality panorama, the judges evaluated our capacity not only to play the part and talk the talk during a month as a CEO ; they also reflected team-wise. “Would we be a good personality match for our tutor aka our national CEO?”
Three days is an awfully short while to try and rightly frame someone’s personality. However, the diversity of the tasks given provided the assessing team with a rather complete profile of each of us. Even if some tests didn’t feel relevant to me, the fact that we got the opportunity to DO and be evaluated in real-life was a huge plus. I’d greatly recommend this adventure to anyone wanting to gain some experience in the HR field or to any curious mind looking for an experience.
WHAT DID THEY THINK?
going back to the start
In the end, soft-skills are just another way to find the “right match” for a job. Instead of relying on paper, you get a chance to test people’s real-life skills…. the ones they will use in a day-to-day basis at work: social skills. From these, you can define if one is right or not to fit with the rest of the team. In the end I’d say the goal is to enable efficient and fluid synergies within teams, relying on personality before diploma.
In any project, success depends on the team. So if you want to success, nurture your people. Ed Catmull, rightly worded it in my 2nd Bible (the first being Simon Sinek’s Start with why):
* The competition holds two phases. First the winner shadows the national CEO and enters then the mondial competition to shadow Adecco’s general CEO