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Soft Skills and Attitude More Important Than Technical Skills, Finds Bayt.Com Poll

Soft Skills and Attitude More Important Than Technical Skills, Finds Bayt.Com Poll

Middle East Company News

August 24, 2009

When asked about the strategy they normally follow when conducting the promotion process, almost a third of all employers, 32%, stated they look at an employee’s proven deliverables and make their decision based on these indicators. A number of employers, 11%, opt for a slightly unorthodox tactic and stretch their employees to see who performs best under pressure – choosing the ‘winner’ for promotion. Furthermore, 4% of employers conduct a rigorous 360-degree performance appraisal with their staff; another 4% invite employees to formally apply for the higher position, while a further 4% of employers conduct random interviews with employees to see who fits in best with the higher position. However, another third of employers combine a mix of each of these factors as their strategy for promoting employees.

Amer Zureikat, Regional Manager,, commented:

“What the poll results demonstrate is that despite the fact that the promotions process is a vital part of seeking out and encouraging the best talent in any organisation – as has been the practice for many decades – there are no hard and fast rules as to how employers go about it. Instead employers opt for the process that works best for them, which interestingly demonstrates what a challenging process promoting – or on the flip side, demoting – staff members can be for HR practitioners and managers.”

The surveyed employers also acknowledged the problems inherent in the promotion process: 44% of employers said that the biggest mistake made by employers when deciding upon a promotion is not considering leadership skills sufficiently. Another 13% of employers said that allowing just one manager to make the promotion decision is the biggest mistake in the process, while another 13% agreed that not discussing the matter of promotion sufficiently with the concerned employee is an issue. Just 6% of employers agreed that relying solely on the observations of the employee’s direct manager for a promotion decision was problematic, and another 6% said making a promotion decision based on an employee’s performance on a specific project was an issue.

There are, naturally enough, a number of factors which serve to hinder an employee’s chances of gaining a promotion. The biggest source of chagrin among the surveyed employers was weak leadership skills in their employees, which caused a grievance to over a fifth of employers. Bad work ethics and laziness, unsurprisingly, also feature as a significant barrier to an employee’s chances of promotion – as agreed with by 18% of employers.

Furthermore, 15% of employers stated that inability to work as part of a team or being too independent at work, and weak interpersonal skills, were also major hindrances to chances of promotion.

Interestingly, lack of creativity or problem solving skills, and weak technical skills were less of a hindrance to an employee’s chance of promotion according to 12% and 9% of employers respectively.

“The data suggests that employers might be willing to work on nurturing technical skills and creativity traits via training and development of their employees – especially if they have other strong qualities, possibly because in practice, troublesome attitudes are more difficult to change and improve than actual key skills,” commented Zureikat.

Potential promotability, it was found from the polls, is also considered by employers from as early on as when they make their hiring decisions. The results showed that 28% of employers look for strong people skills in their potential recruits, while 20% look for signs of good technical skills and ability. Another desirable quality that 16% of employers look for is commitment and loyalty – perhaps from work experience in previous organisations or hobbies/ activities undertaken in a job seeker’s spare time. Desirable – but not wholly necessary – traits that employers look for in potential new staff, at 8% each, are a strong work ethic, a good character and integrity, as well as a track record of success.

“Our latest poll series is a varied study of the promotion process in the region, but it provides some hugely telling insights into the way that employers really think about the process – which may come as a surprise to employees and job seekers alike. Understanding the way the promotion process works, and what employers really look for in an employee, can be hugely beneficial to serious professionals at all career levels, because it allows them the impetus to adjust or amend their behaviors accordingly and map their career path realistically. Furthermore, this kind of data, which is in itself very interesting, can serve as a benchmark for the Middle East HR industry – as HR practitioners seek to source and nurture the best talent to compete on a global level,” concluded Zureikat.

Data for the ‘Job seeker promotability’ poll series was collected online between the period of 13th July and 17th August 2009, with respondents represented by employers across the Middle East.