The CPA Center of Excellence®’s work was recently validated by a well-known, independent organization, Accounting Today, when the Insight HR & Career Development Toolkit was named as a 2016 Top New Product. While that recognition itself is a great honor, this is of greater importance: the need for soft skills assessment and development, using a competency-based approach, is gaining momentum.

soft-skillsHow do you – either individually or your firm or company – measure skill levels and plan your skill development, particularly in those critical business (i.e. “soft”) skills? Are you (or your employer) placing more emphasis on these skills now than ever before? If not, you should be.

Gary Bolinger’s blog on January 28 addressed this very issue. He made the point that “your staff has no value unless they (and you) have a strong command of the ‘core competencies.’ You know, those vital skills that all CPAs should have. Yes, the ‘soft skills.’” Accounting Today liked this too. They published it as a guest column on February 17.

According to Bolinger, “No one cares how good your command of technical skills is unless you have outstanding communication skills; your leadership skills combined with those communications skills allow you and your colleagues to collaborate in the most effective manner; and you and your staff possess the best critical thinking and analytical skills in order to make the most reasonable and effective decisions.”

So why Insight and why now? The innovative tool has everything you need to not only assess your skills, but also to create a plan of action to develop those skills, and connect you to resources and mentors. Today’s increasingly complex business environment is necessitating the mastery of critical business skills in order to succeed as a CPA. Clients expect it. Employers demand it. Technical skills are not enough anymore.

The CPA Center of Excellence® conducted a learning survey late last year. Nearly 700 Indiana CPAs participated. Among the findings were that 56% do not assess their skills and 62% do not have a skill development plan. While those numbers perhaps are not surprising, they are alarming nevertheless. But this concern is not limited to CPAs.

An article from Mind Tools titled “Why Soft Skills Matter,” states “… it’s so important to focus as much on soft skills training and development as you do on traditional hard skills.” The article goes on to point out that “Teamwork, leadership and communication are underpinned by soft skills development. Since each is an essential element for organizational and personal success, developing these skills is important and does matter … a lot!”

Not assessing your skills, and not developing those that you need help with, is not going to be an option.