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I have read this Washington Post article about Google’s analysis of its employees at least five times now. Who would ever think in this day and age where most employers expect and demand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills from graduating students (and therefore expect and demand parents and teachers to push their students in these areas to be “ready for the work world”) that you would find, again, that true success of a great company lies in returning to the, what seems like, basics.


Listening, empathy, valuing others’ opinions, coaching, and possessing good communication skills


The founders of Google always felt they had to hire technical experts when they started their, now giant, company. In 2013, they instituted Project Oxygen to review hiring practices since its 1998 inception and the skills associated with those who joined the organization. They were totally surprised to find STEM expertise, their original hiring priority, came in dead last of the top eight skills identified in their top talent. Employees were succeeding in spite of less technological knowledge than a colleague. This caused them to re-evaluate, elevate the importance of soft skills in their hiring profile, and expand their ideal qualifications for roles.


Their next investigation created Project Aristotle, which taught them that their most successful teams were the ones relying on these soft skills the most. A great team is a space where each employee feels heard, appropriately challenged, and safe to share ideas and make mistakes.


You just can’t discount the value of soft skills in the productivity and confidence of employees…and ultimately their success. Google learned an invaluable lesson when they took the time to understand the characteristics and skills of their most successful employees. Such a great read…such a great lesson.

Author Amy Tyler

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