hard-skills-vs-soft-skills

What Are Hard Skills And Soft Skills? Hard skills vs. Soft Skills In A Nutshell

Hard skills describe teachable or technical abilities that are learned in an educational institution, book, or in the workplace. Soft skills, on the other hand, are those that are used to interact with other people. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as interpersonal skills or people skills.

Understanding hard skills

Hard skills describe the technical abilities an interview candidate may list on their resume. These skills demonstrate competency in a specific job, career, or industry and must be learned in a formal or informal education setting. In other words, no one is born with hard skills.

For example, a restaurant worker will need to possess formal barista and point-of-sale system training as part of their role. An international sales representative may need to be fluent in the language of the country where their most important clients reside.

Hard skills tend to be measurable, easily quantified, and can be described using numerical or yes/no criteria. Examples include:

With business now dominated by technology, it can be easy to assume that most roles emphasize hard skills and technical proficiency. However, there are some skills that technology cannot reproduce. We will take a look at these in the next section.

Understanding soft skills

Soft skills are harder to quantify than hard skills because they refer to how we interact with others. Many of these skills are innate to our personalities, but we can also learn soft skills to bolster our job prospects or improve the quality of our relationships with others.

In the workplace, soft skills are desirable because they can be used in any context irrespective of the industry or the organization itself. What’s more, employers look for candidates with soft skills because they are essential to creating a harmonious and positive company culture. 

Some positions may also place a greater emphasis on soft skills than on hard skills. For example, it is more important for a human resources manager to be empathetic and a great communicator than it is for them to be able to analyze data or use specialized software.

Examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication.
  • Collaboration.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Leadership.
  • Active listening.
  • Critical thinking.
  • A willingness to learn.
  • Self-motivation or organization.
  • Creativity.
  • Dependability.

Key takeaways:

  • Hard skills describe teachable or technical abilities that are learned in an educational institution, book, or in the workplace. Conversely, soft skills are those that are used to interact with other people and can be more difficult to quantify.
  • Hard skills are increasingly important in many technology-based roles where technical proficiency is key. Examples include coding, blockchain, and forklift operation. 
  • Many individuals possess innate soft skills that allow them to relate to others positively, but the good news is that most soft skills can be learned to bolster a resume. Examples include communication, creativity, critical thinking, leadership, and active listening.

Types of Organizational Structures

organizational-structure-types
Organizational Structures

Siloed Organizational Structures

Functional

functional-organizational-structure
In a functional organizational structure, groups and teams are organized based on function. Therefore, this organization follows a top-down structure, where most decision flows from top management to bottom. Thus, the bottom of the organization mostly follows the strategy detailed by the top of the organization.

Divisional

divisional-organizational-structure

Open Organizational Structures

Matrix

matrix-organizational-structure

Flat

flat-organizational-structure
In a flat organizational structure, there is little to no middle management between employees and executives. Therefore it reduces the space between employees and executives to enable an effective communication flow within the organization, thus being faster and leaner.

Connected Business Frameworks

Portfolio Management

project-portfolio-matrix
Project portfolio management (PPM) is a systematic approach to selecting and managing a collection of projects aligned with organizational objectives. That is a business process of managing multiple projects which can be identified, prioritized, and managed within the organization. PPM helps organizations optimize their investments by allocating resources efficiently across all initiatives.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

kotters-8-step-change-model
Harvard Business School professor Dr. John Kotter has been a thought-leader on organizational change, and he developed Kotter’s 8-step change model, which helps business managers deal with organizational change. Kotter created the 8-step model to drive organizational transformation.

Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model

nadler-tushman-congruence-model
The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University. The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.

McKinsey’s Seven Degrees of Freedom

mckinseys-seven-degrees
McKinsey’s Seven Degrees of Freedom for Growth is a strategy tool. Developed by partners at McKinsey and Company, the tool helps businesses understand which opportunities will contribute to expansion, and therefore it helps to prioritize those initiatives.

Mintzberg’s 5Ps

5ps-of-strategy
Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy is a strategy development model that examines five different perspectives (plan, ploy, pattern, position, perspective) to develop a successful business strategy. A sixth perspective has been developed over the years, called Practice, which was created to help businesses execute their strategies.

COSO Framework

coso-framework
The COSO framework is a means of designing, implementing, and evaluating control within an organization. The COSO framework’s five components are control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring activities. As a fraud risk management tool, businesses can design, implement, and evaluate internal control procedures.

TOWS Matrix

tows-matrix
The TOWS Matrix is an acronym for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths. The matrix is a variation on the SWOT Analysis, and it seeks to address criticisms of the SWOT Analysis regarding its inability to show relationships between the various categories.

Lewin’s Change Management

lewins-change-management-model
Lewin’s change management model helps businesses manage the uncertainty and resistance associated with change. Kurt Lewin, one of the first academics to focus his research on group dynamics, developed a three-stage model. He proposed that the behavior of individuals happened as a function of group behavior.

Organizational Structure Case Studies

Airbnb Organizational Structure

airbnb-organizational-structure
Airbnb follows a holacracy model, or a sort of flat organizational structure, where teams are organized for projects, to move quickly and iterate fast, thus keeping a lean and flexible approach. Airbnb also moved to a hybrid model where employees can work from anywhere and meet on a quarterly basis to plan ahead, and connect to each other.

eBay Organizational Structure

ebay-organizational-structure
eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

IBM Organizational Structure

ibm-organizational-structure
IBM has an organizational structure characterized by product-based divisions, enabling its strategy to develop innovative and competitive products in multiple markets. IBM is also characterized by function-based segments that support product development and innovation for each product-based division, which include Global Markets, Integrated Supply Chain, Research, Development, and Intellectual Property.

Sony Organizational Structure

sony-organizational-structure
Sony has a matrix organizational structure primarily based on function-based groups and product/business divisions. The structure also incorporates geographical divisions. In 2021, Sony announced the overhauling of its organizational structure, changing its name from Sony Corporation to Sony Group Corporation to better identify itself as the headquarters of the Sony group of companies skewing the company toward product divisions.

Facebook Organizational Structure

facebook-organizational-structure
Facebook is characterized by a multi-faceted matrix organizational structure. The company utilizes a flat organizational structure in combination with corporate function-based teams and product-based or geographic divisions. The flat organization structure is organized around the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, and the key executives around him. On the other hand, the function-based teams based on the main corporate functions (like HR, product management, investor relations, and so on).

Google Organizational Structure

google-organizational-structure
Google (Alphabet) has a cross-functional (team-based) organizational structure known as a matrix structure with some degree of flatness. Over the years, as the company scaled and it became a tech giant, its organizational structure is morphing more into a centralized organization.

Tesla Organizational Structure

tesla-organizational-structure
Tesla is characterized by a functional organizational structure with aspects of a hierarchical structure. Tesla does employ functional centers that cover all business activities, including finance, sales, marketing, technology, engineering, design, and the offices of the CEO and chairperson. Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, decide the strategic direction of the company, with international operations given little autonomy.

McDonald’s Organizational Structure

mcdonald-organizational-structure
McDonald’s has a divisional organizational structure where each division – based on geographical location – is assigned operational responsibilities and strategic objectives. The main geographical divisions are the US, internationally operated markets, and international developmental licensed markets. And on the other hand, the hierarchical leadership structure is organized around regional and functional divisions.

Walmart Organizational Structure

walmart-organizational-structure
Walmart has a hybrid hierarchical-functional organizational structure, otherwise referred to as a matrix structure that combines multiple approaches. On the one hand, Walmart follows a hierarchical structure, where the current CEO Doug McMillon is the only employee without a direct superior, and directives are sent from top-level management. On the other hand, the function-based structure of Walmart is used to categorize employees according to their particular skills and experience.

Microsoft Organizational Structure

microsoft-organizational-structure
Microsoft has a product-type divisional organizational structure based on functions and engineering groups. As the company scaled over time it also became more hierarchical, however still keeping its hybrid approach between functions, engineering groups, and management.

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