Mollisvitaephobia is fear of soft skills.

Ok. You got me. I made it up by translating soft skills into Latin. Why? Because there is most definitely an ailment in organisations that needs fixing and it needs a name.

There is a bias towards technical training at the expense of soft skills training.

Want proof? How about these gems from page 86 of the APRA report into governance, culture and accountability at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

The risk function has had an uneven (that is, an inconsistent and sometimes weak) influence across CBA. This has been partly driven by the natural organisational divide between business units that generate revenues and support functions.

 In some areas, the risk function was perceived more as an inhibitor than a necessary partner.

The risk function was also described as focusing on policy writing and correctness of frameworks over implementation and engagement with the business.

And you can well imagine a small fortune had been spent on technical training of staff at the CBA.

Now is the time to flip the model. Now is the time to invest in the right soft skills training. The risk function across swathes of the banking sector has a long way back to take its rightful place as a trusted adviser to the business.

Not as APRA would have it in Recommendation 7 from the report where they suggest “The CEO ensure that the Executive Committee … promotes the voice of support functions as an effective counterbalance to the business units.”

    Creating a counterbalance increases the potential for conflict.

The smarter approach is to develop the soft skills of support function staff so they

  • Understand and own the challenges of the business.
  • Help to design solutions that work efficiently and effectively.
  • Ensure longer term sustainability and reputation enhancement objectives are also catered for.

                                     From red tape to blue ribbon!

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