Soft skills basically means people skills . According to some Soft skills is a sociological term relating to a person's EQ i.e Emotional Intelligence Quotient, a group of personality traits, communication, social graces, personal habits, language,personal habits, friendliness, and optism that characterize relationships with other people.
We all know how competitive the world is becoming and along with that everyone wants to achieve success. Every organisation wants to be ahead of other and to come first in the race they need effective staff and good strategy. We know that every organisation recruits intelligent and knowledgeable people so what is the there extra that organisatons looks before they hire people, what we can call a X factor. Recently organisation s have realised apart from all these qualities their people must know how to handle themselves on workplace, how to build customer relationships. They should have awareness of whats going around them and all these come under one name Soft Skills and that is the X factor i was talking about.
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A lot of literature can be found on Soft Skills. One form of Soft Skill is Emotional Labour. 'Emotional labour' was first highlighted by Hochschild in 'The Managed Heart: The Commercialisation of Human Feelings' (1983). As Williams,2003 said adding value through services often involves developing empathetic relationships between the service provider and the customer, and this has led to the recognition and growing importance of 'emotional labour', as a core component of some forms of service work, such as airline stewards, tour reps and nurses (e.g. McQueen, 2004). James (1992) for example, states: "The formula
'care = organisation + physical labour + emotional labour' identifies component parts of 'carework' as observed at a hospice. New forms of service - such as image consultants (Wellington and Bryson, 2001) - have developed around 'emotional labour', and call centre staff are expected to act down the phone (Palmer and Carstairs, 2003). Meanwhile more established activities such as beauty therapists increasingly recognise themselves as engaging in emotional labour. Sharma and Black (2001) found that beauty therapists saw their work less in terms of what it does to make women look better, more in terms of what it does to make women feel better. It follows, therefore, that knowledge of, and the physical ability to undertake beauty therapies is necessary but not sufficient to survive in that occupation.
Similarly, 'emotional labour' is increasingly recognised as necessary amongst professionals. It is not sufficient that barristers who contest jury trails be experts in the law - they also need to be able to emote to make an emotional connection with the jury (Harris, 2002). Being an expert in your field is no longer sufficient for university lecturers, for as student feedback becomes ever more important those lecturers who gain are those who provide dynamic presentations (in PowerPoint, etc.) and entertain, as well as (perhaps) educate (Ogbonna and Harris, 2004). Even in frontline service work, such as in banks, call centres and amongst airline stewards, 'emotional labour' extends beyond 'good manners', to include a complex of skills including communication skills, the ability to empathise and understand problems from another's (usually the customer's) perspective, the ability to calm irate customers, the ability to solve problems, the ability to work in teams with flexible job specifications, and the ability to reflect on performance (Gorman, 2000). The point is that workers are often expected to conceal or manage their own feelings for the benefit of a successful service delivery (Constanti and Gibbs, 2005).
So looking at the above statements by different experts one can say that Soft skills provides the bedrock for many competencies that are critical for effective performance in the work place. For instance, how effective is one in influencing others directly depend on the person's ability that how well he can connect to the client emotionally in order to understand what they are feeling and why? We should have the ability to manage our emotions very well in order to effectively influence others.
IDENTYFYING SOFT SKILL COMPETANCIES
In 1974, Kartz categorised the skills required by effective managers as technical, human and conceptual. Technical skills means detail-oriented skills like calculating food cost in a restaurant. Human skills are those interpersonal skills needed to be able to manage a group of people or interact in a one-on-one format. Team building and communication skills are examples of human skills. Conceptual skills are the planning and visioning skills needed by managers. Decision making and forecasting are examples of conceptual skills( Katz, 1974 ). Since that time, Sandwith (1993) identified five competency domains for management training: (a) conceptual / creative, (b) leadership, (c) interpersonal, (d) administrative, and (e) technical. These domains are similar to the categories identified by Katz (1974) . The conceptual / creative domain corresponds to the conceptual skills category, the technical and administrative domains correspond to the technical skills category, and the leadership and interpersonal domains correspond to the human skills category. The terms hard skills and soft skills are based on these categories and domains. Hard skills correspond to the skills in the technical and administrative categories and soft skills correspond to the skills in the human, conceptual, leadership and interpersonal categories.
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Rainsbury et al (2002) classified the competencies of superior managers identified by Spencer and Spencer (1993) as hard skills or soft skills. Only three of the 20 competencies were classifi ed as hard skills with the remaining 17 classified as soft skills. The categories of the soft skills include achievement and action, impact and
influence, managerial (team management and developing others), and personal effectiveness( Rainsbury et al , 2002 ).
Boyatzis(1982) in his research found out
Using the studies by Boyatzis (1982) and Stevens and Campion (1994) , four categories for soft skills can be identified:
1) Leadership / people / relationship skills - These skills are those needed to negotiate with others, to participate in a team environment, to provide service to clients / customers / peers and to resolve confl ict. This is important because it will aid in helping individuals and organizations accomplish goals ( Kantrowitz, 2005 ).
2) Communication - These skills are associated with listening, presenting, verbalizing and non-verbal communications. Riggio (1986) used the Social Skills Indicator (SSI) to assess social and communication skills. He found that higher scores on the SSI related to better job performance. Also, Riggio et al (2003) found that groups chose leaders who had higher levels of communication skills (as measured by the SSI).
3. Management / organization - These skills include articulating goals, organizing people and resources, monitoring progress, and resolving problems ( Kantrowitz, 2005 ). Mintzberg (1975) sought to determine how managers spend their time. He used structured observation methods. The roles he developed were categorized as decisional roles (resource allocation, resolving conflict, negotiation and entrepreneurs), information roles (monitoring, disseminating and speaking), and interpersonal roles (leader, figurehead and liaison).
4. Cognitive skills and knowledge - These skills relate to creative thinking, making
sound decisions and solving problems within the workplace ( Conrad, 1999 ). Kesselman et al (1982) found that problem solving, decision making and planning scores (as assessed by an in-basket exercise) were positively related to overall job performance. Spector et al (2000) also found that in-basket performance signifi cantly and positively correlated with management potential scores.
Soft Skill training was not given that much importance till recent years. Business organisations used to give Soft Skills training to their employees but when comes times to cut the budgets Soft skills training was first on the list infact , companies thinks to fund a course on computer training skills is more profitable to their business than funding soft skills training. But the picture has changed after the publish of international best seller, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ(Bantam Books, 1995) by Daniel Goleman which brought a new respect for soft skills training in corporate world. In this book Goleman proved that Emotional Intelligence matters twice as much as IQ or technical skills in job success. Thus we can say now Soft skills make a difference in business success. The success of the book was so much that it compelled Goleman to go for a more deeper research on this topic and after his three years of his deep research he cam eout with another book called 'Working with Emotional Intelligence' (Bantam Books, 1998) in which he collected data from more than 500 organisations to prove that factors like self-confidence , self-awareness, self-control, commitment and integrity not only create more successful employees but also more successful companies. Goleman's came as a light from heaven for those group of soft skill trainers who were always over-looked or left behind. Golemans's research revealed that qualities possessed by soft skill trainers are not ordinary and useless and their skills also play an important role in business success. The research also marked a very significant difference between IQ and Emotional Intelligence (EI) that unlike IQ which is a persons intellectual potential that is fixed at birth, Emotional intelligence can be taught and developed over a period of time. Thus the research of Goleman brought a new revolution for soft Skills as companies started investing in soft skills training. Even the employees at senior level were asked to take soft skills training. So if a soft skill trainer or a human resource manager whose job is to teach soft skills to their employees firstly needs to understand that traditional soft skills training is just a portion of a long-term process that begins with understanding of why emotional intelligence matters and ends with a dedication to ongoing training and counselling of your employees.
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From the beginning of the industrial revolution it has been taught that there is no place of emotions at work. We always believed in reasons and logic and intelligence was something that was always honoured but still we have witnessed an excellent graduate who never a had a good job, and a failure in a college became a millionaire in his early twenties and thus IQ was considered a reason behind this. But everyone has to realise the fact that emotions are essential part of our natural life that influences our behaviour when we walk into our workplace every morning. There was no hard-data to prove that one's ability to control their emotions effectively can help them in making correct decisions, deal with the obstructions and interact with others more efficiently. But now we have the research of Goleman's and others according to which research on 181 jobs at 121 companies worldwide revealed that two out of three abilities vital for success were emotional competencies such as adaptability, trustworthiness and teamwork. According to a study the top three capabilities that companies look while hiring MBA's are communication skills, interpersonal skills and initiative. Surprisingly Emotional Intelligence makes a difference in place like computer programming where the the top 10% of performers were 320% more efficient in producing the effective programs than the average performers and amazingly the superstar at 1%level were 1272% more efficient than average. To find out the reason behind this all the top performers were assessed and the results showed that all the top performers were not good as individuals but they produced excellent results when they were working in a group like helping their collegues so we can say that teamwork was the factor behind their success. Even the results which came out after studying more than 500 organisations across the world revealed that the people working at the top positions of the company scored highest in EQ.
A study conducted by Toronto-based Multi-Health Systems, Inc through the BarOn EQ-i , which is a written test on 1171 U.S Air Force recruiters showed that the top performing recruiters scored highest empathy, assertiveness, interpersonal relations, problem solving and optism. Moreover a study of 1000 sales personnel from a multi-national U.S based company showed that competencies of Emotional Intelligence were the characteristics of successful employees rather than age, gender, geographical background or number of hours worked.
"The real key to keeping good people is the kind of environment
that leaders create," explains Lee Kricher, vice president of leadership and workforce development for Development Dimensions International in Pittsburgh. "As a result, there's a much keener awareness among managers that recognizing emotions in others and handling relationships is key to creating the kind of environment that employees will thrive in." Even the thoughts of kricher are agreed by Kate cannon, president of Kate Cannon and Associates in Minneapolis and also the founder of the one of the first corporate emotional intelligence efforts in US.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is defined as being able to monitor our own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among these feelings and emotions, and to use this to guide our thinking and actions (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas--identifying, using, understanding, and regulating emotions (Salovey & Mayer, 1993). According to Goleman (1995), emotional intelligence consists of five components: knowing our emotions (self-awareness), managing them, motivating ourselves, recognizing emotions in others (empathy), and handling relationships.
EI was first defined in a series of academic articles authored by John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey (1990, 1993, 1995). Their first article presented the first EI model. However, the term "emotional intelligence" entered the mainstream only with Daniel Goleman in 1995. Goleman asserts that IQ contributes only about 20 percent to success in life, and other forces contribute the remainder, such as EI, luck, and social class. Further, unlike IQ, which does not improve much beyond the teen years, EI can be learned continuously as one matures. People with high EI are more likely to succeed than those with low EI regardless of IQ level.
Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ generated an increased interest in the roles that EI plays in our lives. This publication reevaluated the so-called soft skills that do so much to determine one's success. It prompted mainstream educators, business people and the media to seriously reconsider these issues.
The response was overwhelming and can be attributed to several reasons. First, people are excited and relieved to receive confirmation of what they have instinctively known all along--that IQ is not the sole predictor of career success, and there are other factors that are at least as important to success. In fact, one can make the argument that, in order for us to take advantage of and use our intelligence to the maximum, we first need good EI skills. Regardless of our intellectual intelligence, if we offend others with our abrasive behavior, no one will stick around long enough to notice our high IQ. It is encouraging to discover that EI can be reliably measured and may eventually take its place alongside cognitive intelligence (Book & Stein, 2000).
It is interesting to note that emotional intelligence cuts across the gender gap. Both men and women have been found to have remarkably similar overall EI scores. Women tend to score higher in social responsibilities and empathy, while men score higher on stress tolerance. For every area of EI in which women appear to enjoy a natural advantage, men have a counterbalancing strength elsewhere (Cooper, 1996). Also, EI
is not permanently fixed. The skills defined and measured can be improved, no matter a person's age. The stronger one's EI, the more likely one is to be successful as an employee, a manager, or parent (Book& Stein, 2000).
Soft Skills For HR
HR plays an important role in a business organisation as they have the responsibility of recruiting and training the employees of the company. In order to train others effectively the HR should also possess certain qualities. HR professionals should not only be expertise in their given job but also have a good personality and positive and ready to go attitude at work. They should have good control over their emotions in order to connect emotionally with others as we discussed earlier Emotional Intelligence is a part of soft skills. According to some researchers Soft skill training is very important for HR professionals for the business success.
Introduction of Training
It is a learning process that involves the acquisition of knowledge,
sharpening of skills, concepts, rules, or changing of attitudes and behaviors
to enhance the performance of employees. Training is activity leading to
â€¢ It's not what you want in life, but it's knowing how to reach it
â€¢ It's not where you want to go, but it's knowing how to get there
â€¢ It's not how high you want to rise, but it's knowing how to take off
â€¢ It may not be quite the outcome you were aiming for, but it will be an
â€¢ It's not what you dream of doing, but it's having the knowledge to do it
â€¢ It's not a set of goals, but it's more like a vision
â€¢ It's not the goal you set, but it's what you need to achieve it
Training is about knowing where you stand (no matter how good or bad the
current situation looks) at present, and where you will be after some point of
Training is about the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA)
through professional development.
ROLE OF TRAINING
Importance Of Training and Development
â€¢ Optimum Utilization of Human Resources - Training and Development
helps in optimizing the utilization of human resource that further helps the
employee to achieve the organizational goals as well as their individual
â€¢ Development of Human Resources - Training and Development helps to
provide an opportunity and broad structure for the development of human
resources' technical and behavioral skills in an organization. It also helps the
employees in attaining personal growth.
â€¢ Development of skills of employees - Training and Development helps in
increasing the job knowledge and skills of employees at each level. It helps
to expand the horizons of human intellect and an overall personality of the
â€¢ Productivity - Training and Development helps in increasing the
productivity of the employees that helps the organization further to achieve
its long-term goal.
â€¢ Team spirit - Training and Development helps in inculcating the sense of
teamwork, team spirit, and inter-team collaborations. It helps in inculcating
the zeal to learn within the employees.
â€¢ Organization Culture - Training and Development helps to develop and
improve the organizational health culture and effectiveness. It helps in
creating the learning culture within the organization.
â€¢ Organization Climate - Training and Development helps building the
positive perception and feeling about the organization. The employees get
these feelings from leaders, subordinates, and peers.
â€¢ Quality - Training and Development helps in improving upon the quality
of work and work-life.
â€¢ Healthy work-environment - Training and Development helps in creating
the healthy working environment. It helps to build good employee,
relationship so that individual goals align with organizational goal.
â€¢ Health and Safety - Training and Development helps in improving the
health and safety of the organization thus preventing obsolescence.
â€¢ Morale - Training and Development helps in improving the morale of the
â€¢ Image - Training and Development helps in creating a better corporate
â€¢ Profitability - Training and Development leads to improved profitability
and more positive attitudes towards profit orientation.
â€¢ Training and Development aids in organizational development i.e.
Organization gets more effective decision-making and problem solving. It
helps in understanding and carrying out organizational policies
â€¢ Training and Development helps in developing leadership skills,
motivation, loyalty, better attitudes, and other aspects that successful
workers and managers usually display.
The rules for succeeding in business are changing daily. Yet people are still asking for the magic formula that contributes to a successful organization. Is it talented, knowledgeable people plus innovative products? That's a great start, but something vital is missing from this equation
More and more corporations around the world recognize that, in order to gain a competitive advantage, they also need to make sure their people know how to handle themselves at work and how to relate with their customers and peers. From showing empathy and optimism to extreme self-awareness to knowing what's going on around them, these vital competencies are an integral part of a progressive organization. They fall under the umbrella of Emotional Intelligence (EI).
These soft-skills, or emotional intelligence skills, revelations open the door to a lot of discussion. The western civilization and our traditional management theories tend to lead us in the direction of individualistic promotion. They display our strengths rather than the demonstration of our humanness. These ideas have been so tightly woven into our leadership mentality that they can be challenging to break.
Unfortunately, most graduate schools don't teach you how to cultivate your soft skills. While courses such as Business Writing and Public Speaking are offered, I have never seen a course entitled, "The Effective Art of Listening to Your Customer." We live in a society that measures intelligence through quantifiable metrics. A professor will give you good grades once you know XYZ, but he or she will not increase your grade for being able to deal with a difficult situation, showing compassion, or solving an unexpected problem. Yet most compliments that you or your employees receive deal more with the use of soft skills than with your actual knowledge about a particular situation. Most customers appreciate a "willingness to help" and the fact that "she listened to my complaint." The use of these skills is what elevates your organization above the competition.
You don't compete only with products anymore, rather with how well you use your people. Too often we focus on what employees need to "know" when evaluating and hiring them instead of "who they really are." I will illustrate this with an example.
John was promoted to TechnicalÂ ProjectHYPERLINK "http://www.businessknowhow.com/growth/softskills.htm"Â HYPERLINK "http://www.businessknowhow.com/growth/softskills.htm"ManagerÂ at his consulting company. Some people wondered why John had risen to this level of management. His educational level was lower than others in the firm and his degree wasn't in an area that pertained to consulting. However, one of the strengths that was nowhere on his resume was his ability to be positive in all situations and to naturally motivate people. He was quick to smile and see the positive side of every project. He was generous in praising people and was consistently happy. These were his strengths - his natural attributes. They made up the sum of who John was. These soft skills are just as important as what John knows.
The challenge nowadays is to introduce a program that will allow your leaders to learn and capitalize fast on their soft-skills competencies. Soft skills are important and always have been. It seems we have laid them aside and opted to emphasize too much on expertise and credentials. Let's get back to our values and the basics of good internal and external customer service.
Soft skills are the underlying principles that trademark a company for professionalism and excellent customer service. They provide differentiation between all the cookie-cutter look-alikes and play a vital role inÂ customerloyalty. In today's working environment, where customers and employees are demanding more, instilling the use of soft skills in your team members is something you simply can't survive without.
When it's time to focus on soft-skills training as a tool to improve performance, leadership potential, and bottom line organizational success, consider the following:
1. Start SlowlyÂ - Instead of getting a large number of people in a room and preaching to them about their soft skills - move slowly. Introduce the concept with an informative and fun workshop. The program should also be designed to enhance their skills.
2. Involve Your People From the StartÂ - Involve as many employees as you can on the decision to create a program, what to include within the program, and how to maintain the program. People support what they help create. Engage them, give them the possibility to make changes with your training curriculum, do a pilot program with key people, and use the pilot program as an introduction to the group.
3. Hire Expert HelpÂ - Coaches and Organizational Consultants are experts in building rapport and establishing the right culture for these initiatives. With the right culture and the appropriate training, managers can continue the task of training and cultivating good relationships.
4. Recognize Individual AchievementÂ - There is so much talk about teamwork today that we forget to emphasize how important it is to praise individual achievement as well. From time to time praise your stars. Recognizing personal contributions to the team is an excellent morale booster.
5. Discover the Group's Soft-Skill IdentityÂ - All people are not the same, so their soft skills and strengths are not the same either. Once you know who you have on your team, leverage their strengths and differences because these are the facts that will help distinguish you and your organization from the competition. Illustrate how they can leverage each other's strengths inside the team to develop a new group "identity."
The essence of yourÂ businessÂ is your people. Making soft-skills development a priority will bring your team to a new level because it focuses directly on them. By allowing the human aspect of your employees to shine through, you are encouraging them to do what comes naturally to them. Don't overlook these all-important skills when evaluating areas of improvement for your team. Find a way to incorporate soft skills into your leadership development programs and see results immediately.
WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS?
Soft skills are essentially people skills -- the non-technical, intangible, personality-specific skills that determine your strengths as a leader, listener, negotiator, and conflict mediator. "Hard" skills, on the other hand, are more along the lines of what might appear on your resume -- your education, experience and level of expertise.
Are you an agreeable person? Conscientious? Do you communicate effectively? Solve problems efficiently? These are the types of questions aimed at uncovering the strength of your soft skills.
WHY EMPLOYERS CARE ABOUT THEM
Employers value soft skills, because research suggests that they are just as good an indicator of job performance as traditional job qualifications or hard skills. One recent study, for example, found that personality measures like conscientiousness and agreeability were equally important predictors of work success as cognitive ability and work accuracy.
So how do you uncover your soft skills and get the most out of them? Here's a list of some of the most important soft skills and how to perfect them.
1- Have a "winner" attitude
We've all heard that it's better to see the glass half full instead of half empty. And in the workplace, that type of positive thinking can go a long way. An overall positive outlook leads to an overall positive attitude, and that can be a valuable asset in work environments that typically breed cynicism and negativity.
The key to having a winning attitude is in how you tackle obstacles and challenges that come your way. For example, instead of complaining about a stressful workload, think about it as an opportunity to show off your abilities by getting through it productively and efficiently.
2- Be a team player
Employers love an employee who displays the ability to work well in groups and teams. Being a team player means not only being cooperative, but also displaying strongÂ leadershipÂ ability when it's appropriate.Â
The next time a conflict arises within your team, take the initiative to mediate. When you find your team getting stuck in a project, take the lead to move things forward. And what if you don't normally work with a team? Try to be more collaborative in the work you do and build professional relationships with your coworkers.
3- Communicate effectively
GoodÂ communicationÂ skills are essential to someone's job performance. Communication is what allows you to build bridges with coworkers, persuade others to adopt your ideas and express your needs.
Many small things you already do -- things you probably don't even think about -- have a big impact on your communication skills. Here are some things you should be wary of whenÂ communicating with others:
Make good eye contact
Avoid body movements that cut you off from others, like folding your arms
Don't talk for the sake of talking; always have a point
Enunciate your words properly
Hone your grammar skills with a good reference or style manual
In general, you should become more aware of both the verbal and nonverbal cues you give off to others. Also remember that one of the keys to being a good communicator is being a good listener.
4- Exude confidence
In almost every situation where you're trying to impress another person,confidence is key. While it's important to accept your limitations and act humble when you receive praise, it's also important to acknowledge your strengths and embrace them.
Make sure you have the knowledge and skills to back up yourÂ confidence. If you act confident in some of your job responsibilities -- like your written communication, project management skills orÂ leadershipÂ abilities -- make sure that it's based on genuine, positive reinforcement.
5- Hone your creative skills
CreativityÂ and imaginative thinking are valued in any job. Even the most technical positions require the ability to think outside the box. So never underestimate the power of innovative problem solving.
The next time you're handed a tedious task, try to tackle it in a way that allows you to complete it more efficiently. When a problem comes along that others are reluctant to take on, jump at the opportunity to find a creative solution. If it doesn't work, then at least you'll have tried.
6- Accept & learn from criticismÂ
This is one of the most challenging soft skills, which is why it's typically one of the most impressive to employers. Your ability toÂ handle criticismÂ says a lot about your willingness to improve. And being able to criticize the work of others constructively is just as important.Â
Be aware of how defensive you get in reaction to negative feedback. Never reject a piece of constructive criticism completely without acknowledging that at least part of it is helpful. And when you dish out criticism, make sure it's done diplomatically. Try to anticipate how the person you're criticizing will react based on his personality, and shape the way you criticize him accordingly.
7- Motivate yourself & lead others
It's important for an employer to know that you're a self-starter who takes initiative. This means constantly seeking out new ways to keep your job interesting and motivational, even if it at the surface it seems repetitive and mundane.
Creativity plays a big role in this, but there'sÂ more to motivationÂ than just that. Have the courage to pursue those ideas you've had stuck in the back of your mind, and have the dedication to follow through with them and be successful. Pilot others in the same direction to work towards a common goal. Remember that a good leader leads by example.
8- Multitask & prioritize your to-do list
In today's workplace, a good employee is expected to be able toÂ shuffle several different assignmentsÂ and projects at once. Are you good at tracking the progress of different projects you've been handed to work on? Do you know how to prioritize what's most important? These are the keys to being a good multitasker.
Don't be afraid to take on new tasks. Show off yourÂ multitaskingÂ skills by taking on projects that fall all over the spectrum. Branch out beyond your direct responsibilities, and be sure to report on the progress of projects regularly.
9- See the big pictureÂ
Looking at the larger picture in your work means being able to see the determiningÂ factors of success. It also means recognizing a risk that's worth taking, and knowing when to take it.
Say, for example, that you're in advertising and you're handed the task of creating a campaign for a brand of soap. To see the big picture, you should recognize that the goal is not just to sell soap, but also to satisfy the client and provide him with a quality service. Additionally, you make yourself more valuable to your company by showing the unique creativity only you can bring to such a projectgyy