GAP: Soft Skills Do Matter

In the context of any professional organisation, be it governmental, business or NGO, soft skills are important. The optimal combination of people skills, communication skills and understanding lead to an effective and harmonious interaction. Also, it facilitates a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment.

One case in point is the tech giant Google. It has been running a multiyear research programme around the relevance of managers inside the company, called project Oxygen. It started in the early 2000s with a fundamental question raised by executives: do managers matter? It used Google’s internal hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s founding in 1998. Based on data, eight key management attributes have been defined and the remarkable point is that in a tech driven company as Google, still seven of the identified key attributes are soft skills. Only one of the eight is a hard skill, i.e. STEM skills.

The seven key soft skills attributes identified are:

Being a good coach
Communication skills
Possessing insights into others and different values and points of view
Empathy toward one’s colleagues
Critical thinking
Problem solving
Drawing conclusions (making connections across complex ideas)

What is true for Google is also true for peacekeepers. In peacekeeping operations around the world, soft skills do make a difference in terms of connecting with the local population and getting things done in an international force setting.

This is why the European Union H2020 funded Gaming for Peace project has developed a serious game for peacekeepers, allowing them to enhance their soft skills needed in peacekeeping operations.