In the interview with Ans De Vos, we saw just how important human skills have become in everyday life and the workplace. Be they negotiating skills, empathy, problem-solving ability or persuasive power, they give employees with well-developed human skills an advantage in the labour market.
At all companies of the Parklane Insight Group, we do all we possibly can to develop these skills to maturity in our project consultants. But how do we go about it? Nico De Neve and Christelle Massart explain.
Christelle Massart is a business consultant at Parklane Insight. She is responsible for the follow-up and evaluation of project consultants. In addition, she focuses on recruiting new employees and coaching new colleagues.
Nico De Neve is an L&D professional at Parklane Insight. He is responsible for designing and managing internal training programs and on-the-job mentoring
The importance of human skills
In their roles, Christelle and Nico see the everyday reality of just how important human skills have become in today's businesses and organizations. Christelle guides project consultants through their careers at our company, while Nico specializes in on-the-job mentoring.
Nico: “As a mentor, I am constantly in touch with our project consultants. I have seen how human skills have become more important among our young consultants and our more experienced ones. School leavers tend to ask about the practicalities of taking on certain projects, through planning and effective time management. Our senior consultants, on the other hand, tend to be concerned about selling their business ideas to clients and communicating them professionally without ruffling feathers. In both groups, I am seeing a greater need to connect and collaborate positively.”
"Today's consultant must be able to listen, respond, understand and correctly interpret a great deal of information"
Nico De Neve
Working to develop human skills
What tools does Parklane Insight use to identify and hone the personal skills of its project consultants? Nico says, “We focus on communication skills when the recruitment interviews begin. Can a consultant win someone over in an appropriate and positive way?”
“Once we recruit a consultant, we invest heavily in the definition of a career path”, Christelle tells us. “At least once a year we gather around the table to discuss where that path is headed, and we always emphasize the human skills needed to achieve the growth ambition. We consult with our clients too. What points should the consultant focus on as a matter of urgency, and where do the issues in a given project lie? What human qualities are likely to offer the solution to these issues?”
“We use this to delineate a specific training path for every colleague, working step by step and setting time aside to practise the skills acquired. We experiment with different learning types, to generate the sort of energy needed to practise the new skills in a permanent and sustainable way.”
View into the future
Christelle and Nico tell us that in the future human skills will only grow in importance. Nico explains: “In finance, we are seeing more and more automation (due in part to the breakthrough of Robotic Process Automation), and this places higher qualification requirements on finance professionals. With fewer routine tasks and more complex advisory tasks, I see human skills only growing in importance. In successful businesses, finance is the main way to boost internal business and growth today. Finance professionals get the chance to focus on advisory and more complex projects, but this also raises the bar in terms of project management and communication. Today's consultant must be capable of listening, responding, understanding and correctly interpreting a great deal of information. It is a real challenge for HR professionals to up-skill and re-skill young potentials (with speed).”
Christelle also foresees specific challenges: “In practice, human skills are increasingly linked to mental well-being in an organization. Can an employee slot easily into the team? Can he or she communicate in an assertive manner? Is there a healthy work-life balance to be found? How does time management help with this? More than ever before, businesses are laying the emphasis on human qualities rather than technical skills. Today, the successful leader is no longer afraid to reveal his or her human side at the helm of the team. Human skills have never been so integral to team success.”