Soft Skills or Hard Skills?

I’ve never gotten hung up in whether Skills were Soft Skills or Hard Skills.

They’re only Soft when you don’t know the On-the-Job Applications of your Target Audiences & you can’t make your Instruction Job Relevant.

A lack of Performance Analysis is typically the cause.

Back-in-the-Day – which was 1979 for me – I was given Tom Gilbert’s new book (from 1978) titled: Human Competence. This is how my original book looks – there have been two other covers over the past 40 years.

In it he warned about The Cult of Behaviors.

The Cult of Behaviors

Behavior vs Performance

Thomas F. Gilbert cautioned HRD professionals to avoid focusing on behavior rather than performance.

He called this common problem the “cult of behavior“….

George Odiorne called it “the activity trap” in his book: Management and the Activity Trap (1973).

Search on “cult of behavior” and you will see what I mean.

Measured Performance Results – Start with Baseline Results

I really believe that we should be focused on and tracking and reporting more meaningful data than the means – such as Behaviors – and that we should be tracking the ends – such as Performance.

And THAT would require our Instruction (Job Aids and Communications, Education and Training) to “go that last mile – so to speak – to application Back-on-the-Job.

And first measure SUCCESS there – IMPACT BACK-ON-THE-JOB – before doing any other Evaluation. Evaluation is expensive.

Two old posts of mine on that notion – here and here.

Measurement Post-Instruction is Tough/ Impossible If You Don’t Know What You Were Trying to Change and What the Baseline Was

From another old Post of mine from 2011:

In Thomas F. Gilbert’s book “Human Competence” (page 45) – he lists his “Measures of Worthy Performance” – Accomplishments – this way:

1. Quality

(a) Accuracy

(b) Class

(c) Novelty

2. Quantity (or Productivity)

(a) Rate

(b) Timeliness

(c) Volume

3. Cost

(a) Labor (behavior repertories)

(b) Material (environmental supports)

(c) Management

See his definitions – page 45- 47. I’ve always like these. But I changed the wording to match what my clients’ used – or to language that they could better relate to.

Adopt what you can – and adapt the rest.

Measure Performance Impact

Use what measures and labels for them that makes sense in your Context.

But focus Measurement on Performance – Not on Behaviors – or on Skills – or on Knowledge – or on Awareness.

As discussed in the dialogue with the Cat,  Alice asked (you remember Alice):

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)


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