Thought LeadershipThe term hard skills is defined as "specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured. By contrast, soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify. Examples of hard skills include job skills like typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs; soft skills are personality-driven skills like etiquette, getting along with others, listening and engaging in small talk.”

Ability to use a computer

I cannot stress this enough; you need to know how to use a computer. If you happen to work in the field, you might have to setup your computer, printer, scanner and projector. If you happen to be in downtown Calgary you will need to know how to work all of the above with efficiency.

This is one area where, if required, you might need to take some additional courses to stay up to date. Ipads, smartphones, projectors, printers, Macs, PCs –does it ever end?

What happens when your organization updates their software and you need to learn this new software? Are you prepared, or do you endlessly complain about change?

Some of us have this computer phobia and are really attached to our paper documentation. I have bad news for you, everything is headed to an electronic platform and it is imperative that you keep this hard skill current. Tackle this hard skill head on and you will do fine.

Ability to write proper reports

The average reading and comprehension level in Canada is somewhere between a grade eight and nine level. Which means anything of a lower level is not satisfactory. Typically when a report is written, it is because there was an incident. Your incident report will show the reader exactly what kind of safety professional you are. Poor grammar and spelling won't cut it. Each story has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. 

Superb incident reports go hand in hand with your ability to execute proper investigations.

Write clear and concise reports that highlight specific and important details in a focused manner.

When I was being trained to work on the ambulance we were told to paint a story with our words. Each report was a tapestry filled with words that described the problem in an efficient, analytical and objective manner, thereby allowing any reader to visualize the situation.

Write as if you were writing for an audience that knows nothing about the situation.

Ability to build and present presentations

Every day YOU have to present and lead meetings. Whether it is tailgates, safety meetings, pre-jobs, post-jobs or Tap Root presentations, you have to learn to stand up in front of a room full of people. There could be as little as ten people or as many as one hundred in the room.

There are two parts to presenting: preparation and delivery.

Preparation consists of you building PowerPoints or other visual aids, and that means you need to know how to put together a solid presentation. Build a presentation that won't bore your audience to death within minutes of you beginning. That requires you to know how to insert GIFS and MEMES into your presentation. Manipulate charts and add pictures that are relevant to prompt visual interpretation.

It is your job to accurately deliver a story via the visual medium. People consume an inordinate amount of visual content these days –just look at TumblrInstagramSnapchat, Facebook and Vine. Those platforms are great examples of how people communicate messages to each other. Your presentations are the most powerful method to convey your organization's safety culture.

What other hard skills do you think are important while employed as a safety professional?

©2014 White Knight Safety Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reposted by ISHN by permission of author.