Blog Jochem Gieles: Working with humans is challenging

The most of you will know them: the professional skills linked to bachelor courses. Most of you will have done them, successfully finished them and perhaps skeptically discussed their purpose. Let me show you the importance of those professional skills and why you should seriously consider engaging in further development.

“It is the certainty with which trainers state their advice as the one and only truth that I averse”. I take a quick peek at the clock. 2 o’clock already. Discussing professional skills was not really the timespanding activity I had in mind when two of my friends suggested to come over. While I think of the seriousness with which I violate the work-life balance, I catch myself fiercely figuring out the motives of fellow students to engage in professional skill events. And whether they really see the need of self-employment. I notice that I strongly doubt the extend to which students are aware of the opportunities that are hidden in skill development. And then I remember: I still have to write that blog for SkillsLab. I do not immediately link the late night professional skill discussion with the blog I have write tomorrow, but it one of my friends that points out the great opportunity. So, this blog I will use to give you insight in the reasons why I engage in professional skill development. And for sure even more important, what engaging can effectuate. I hope that my blog helps you form your own attitude and beliefs towards skill development. But please, do not take this advice as a superior truth.

Professional skill development? Maybe later.

Professional skills: at least I am happy to conclude that almost everyone that crosses my path knows what I mean when I put forward the subject. Why? Because it all starts with awareness, which most of you gained via the professional skills linked to some of your bachelor courses. Although I know that some are skeptical about the practical value it brought them, I urge you to not underestimate the influence it has. Those course skills are the number one mean to update you about the importance of what is sometimes referred to as soft skills. Without these skills you would not even see the urge of developing them, developing yourself. What you do afterwards, how you consciously take actions towards growth: that is up to you. And this is where I identify a breaking point. When responsibility comes into play, actions become thoughts and plans become wishes. But it is you who is responsible for your own development!

"Realizing an 8% cost reduction on the storage of spare parts would be done in no time; if you weren’t working with humans."

That is why I want to know this: finishing the technical side of the project for your future employee takes only half of the time you invest in it. Realizing an 8% cost reduction on the storage of spare parts would be done in no time; if you weren’t working with humans. Mailing, discussing, cooperating, explaining, convincing, negotiating, committing, listening, writing, etc. The impact of those aspects is easily overlooked, underestimated or trivialized. Especially at a technical university. But believe me, the outcome and success of your project, product or idea is strongly influenced by your capabilities to cope with humans. Think of that crucial presentation where you have to convince the executive board of your company. Worthless presentation and your project, which you have worked on for days, weeks or months, might simply be declined. In need of the permission of your boss? Negotiating and influencing skills are not a luxury in such a situation. I’ve been a fulltime board member for a year and this is my experience speaking. Having your vision being adopted and implemented, takes much more then a great, well reasoned vision. It takes comprehension of the current situation, the ability to deal with friction and spot-on communication skills to have others abandon their current, comfortable environment. Although you might have been one of them, treating lightly the subject of professional skill development, I hope I convinced you to take action. Because it is you who is in charge of making your projects work. At least I have one reassuring message for you: the means for skill development are up for grabs. You only have to stop thinking, and start doing.

SkillsLab Head of Events

Jochem Gieles