In 2016 a group of researchers from Harvard University investigated previous findings from earlier work done by Charles R Mann in 1918[1] where he concluded the following about the effectiveness of management:

85% of effective managerial and leadership success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge.

And what were the important soft skills that were the most important:

  1. Leadership
  2. Collaboration
  3. Communication
  4. Time management

Let’s fast-forward to 2018 and the age of robots and AI and the relevance of soft skills. All we need to do is gaze around the world around us: just about every form of human endeavour has become so tremendously complex and technologically advanced yet it is not robots that will organisations to survive but people with skills and ambition and the motivation and ability to work harmoniously with others – All the things AI and robots cannot do – yet.

The Automation Readiness Index, a report created by The Economist Intelligence Unit, assesses how well-prepared 25 countries are for the challenges and opportunities of intelligent automation. Maybe unsurprisingly, it shows that most countries are not ready for the automation revolution.

According to the study, education and training should be at the centre of long-term strategies to deal with the challenges that automation brings. More specifically, people should be trained to become adaptable learners who can trade on those skills which computers lack: soft skills. 


LinkedIn recently surveyed 2,000 business leaders and asked them which soft skills they’d most like to see their employees learn.

Here’s what they listed as the most in-demand skills soft skills:

  1. Leadership
  2. Collaboration
  3. Communication
  4. Time management

Nothing much has changed in 100 years!

“As long as not every single human is replaced by a robot, we’ll need good managers who are able to cope with change and the constantly evolving workplace. More efficient processes will require more efficient collaboration and communication, and time will be even more at a premium”

Training for Survival

I have been involved in training managers for almost 30 years and am always amazed at how I struggle to convince training executives, on the fact that they should spend at least 85% of their budget on soft skills development. I have heard every excuse in the book: “no time”; “no money”, “end of the year”; “restructuring” (that’s a perennial favourite) etc.

It is training for survival. Disruption and technology are changing the nature of many types of businesses that are taken for granted. Taking the future for granted and apathy are the two biggest risks in business today – ask Toys r Us, department store formats, Edgars, Checkers, OK Bazaars (remember them); think of the relevance of DSTV in 5 years’ time; metered taxis, cashiers in your supermarket in the next decade? Landline telephones?

Do your managers have the soft skills to take you through the turbulent years ahead?

Be the Manager You Need to Be

85% of all the Soft Skills you need in one Online package:

  1.   Be Clear (The Basics of Communication)
  2.   Be Effective (Interpersonal Skills to Build Positive Workplace Relationships)
  3.   Be Productive (Effective Management Skills)
  4.   Be Inspiring (The Manager as Leader as Source of Inspiration)
  5.   Be Motivational (The Fundamentals of Motivation)
  6.   Be Savvy (How to Lead with Emotional Intelligence)

Contact Larry Lincoln on 083 284 3363 or at


[1] Mann, RC. 1918. A Study of Engineering, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 11.

Success as a manager and leader is not determined by a university or college degree nor experience on the job.  Research has shown that the only determining factor that makes the difference between indifferent and ineffective leadership is a person’s ability to use strong people skills, or as it is now known as ‘soft skills’.

“Deloitte found that the skills students gained in school — time management,
academic knowledge, teamwork and analytical skills — were different from those
that employers valued — leadership, sales talent,
general business knowledge and being entrepreneurial.”

(Skills Learned in School Differ From Those Demanded at Work, by Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal)


It is common sense that the power of an organisation’s success lies in the hands of its employees – the salespersons, those who manage teams and projects, build, fix, plan, motivate, inspire and dedicate themselves to creating a place where people like to do business – inspired employees who like to work for your company.

It is also common sense that organisations make soft skills the number one priority of any organisational learning and development strategy.

In reality, we all know that common sense is not a trait that wins out against budgets, time and apathy. Too often human resource and L&D practitioners are reluctant to make the right decision – to develop and nurture talent to become your leaders and the drivers for business growth.

Soft skills represent the intangible qualities that enable managers and leaders to work with and interact with the workforce effectively.


The human qualities of great leadership include self-awareness, communication, empathy and emotional intelligence are what makes soft skills powerful learning tools for winning over the hearts and minds of your employees.


Soft Skills Training does not need to be expensive or time-consuming or difficult to do especially in large organisations

To find out about smarter options – contact Training Fundamentals Online to find out more about Be the Manager You Need to Be ©


I have been privileged to have been involved with the Retail Store Manager Qualification NQF 6 (RSM) since its inception at the Cape Peninsula of Technology (CPUT) 3 years ago. It all started when Training Fundamentals was awarded the tender to develop the material for the 3-year programme and afterwards as facilitator and mentor.

We are now in the third year and the remaining 27 students, from an initial 49, are going strong down the final run to the finish line. This year they complete the remaining subjects: Financial management, Risk and asset management and supply chain and logistics; at the same time, they are working on their work experience logbook, in all an awesome task ahead for full-time retailers and part-time university students! In November, they write the final exams but, it’s not all over, because, in order to obtain the QCTO qualification, they have to sit for a four-hour external examination at an independent assessment centre.

All praise must go to the participating employers who have allowed the participating students to attend lectures 3 days a month and time off to study. Hear the sound of massive applause for Spar, Food Lovers Market, Shoprite, Woolworths and Steinbuild.

The RSM is the first NQF level 6 qualification and the first QCTO (Qualifications Council for Trades and Occupations) retail qualification to be accredited.[1] Others have since been accepted. The credit value currently is 507. There are 9 subjects spread over 3 years.

CPUT was accredited as the first provider by the WRSETA and QCTO to conduct this qualification as a pilot. Lessons have been learned and a recent evaluation has been conducted based on the pilot and certain revisions are being made to decrease the credit value, provide better integration of learning curriculum outcomes and streamline the facilitation processes. Edutel has also been accredited as an additional provider for the RSM.

Although other tertiary institutions have shown an interest, none has so far taken any steps to offer this qualification, besides CPUT through the Retail and Wholesale Leadership Academy. This is a pity, as currently in South Africa, retail education is fragmented and seldom ending in full qualifications. We have a plethora of abbreviations: MDP’s. RDP, DDP’s MRP’s RMDP’s and on it goes. In Europe, especially Germany, Retail studies are driven by universities and colleges and these are at the forefront of developing retail talent. Sadly, in this country, the picture is very different.

CPUT is the only South African University with a dedicated Retail Business department and fully supports the Retail Store Manager qualification.

The Retail Store Manager Qualification: Occupational Certificate (Qual. ID 91789) is, I believe, The best retail qualification available in this country. It provides the most comprehensive foundation and training available. Big chain, mid-sized retailers and national franchisors should be lining up to place their talented current managers, buyers, merchandisers, planners, supply chain managers and others on to this programme. Here they will learn about strategy and implementation from qualified lecturers with industry experience in a university environment using top-level learning technologies and provided with professional support and mentoring for the full three years of the programme.

However, the RSM Qualification is currently poorly marketed and mostly unknown. I wonder if there are any CEO’s who are even aware of the RSM? Those who direct the learning and development space in retail organisations should be better informed and be willing to request the funding from the W&R for this qualification, or self-fund if the need for upskilling and empowering is as critical as it is said to be.

It’s time for Retail Learning and Development Managers to become innovative and ambitious and think big in terms of their goals for their organisations. The RSM needs to continue and is waiting for other retailers to pick up the baton and lead with empowering and growing our retail talent.

I have seen the most amazing potential unfold amongst our small cadre of current students. I have asked a small sample to send me their experiences. Read about these below.

If you are keen to find out more, contact Robyn at CPUT: 021 464 7260 or your local W&R regional office, or you can even contact me.

Student feedback:

Picture24Hi Larry

My experience on this RSM course has been one huge eye-opener. I’m privileged enough to be in a store environment where I have now been exposed to a lot more than a simple admin clerk would ordinarily be exposed to. This is the first time I have been able to get into company financials and shareholder meetings which I have found very interesting.

Working and studying has been one crazy mission to find a balance between work and life. As hard as an adjustment it has been, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Kind regards
Simone Kempshall 







I believe it takes a special kind of person to be a retailer, driven, dedicated and passionate. It involves hard work and in most cases, you set the pace.

In 2016 I was one a few retail staff that were enrolled to study at CPUT, a National RSM Diploma (Retail Store Manager).

The first two years has been hard, juggling between work, family and studies has been a rollercoaster. At times I felt like throwing in the towel. Thank God for my family, my manager & facilitators support, without them I surely would have kicked the bucket.

Where to from here I asked myself. Being exposed to various elements of the retail sector, one thing the RSM course helped me with, is finding myself in this craze.

My aim God willing is to challenge myself and specialise in supply chain and risk management. I have come this far, it will just be foolish to not press on to the finish line.

Reginald Wenn


Picture25In today’s world, being part of the retail industry is inevitable. Whether you find yourself in the consumer or the retailers’ hemisphere, you have part and influence on retail.  The past 50 years the retail industry went through an enormous growth spurt, which affected the everyday life of human beings.

Being part of and pioneering a retail course forever changed the way that I see retail. It creates a space where younger retailers from all major companies can interact and understand the industry from all angles.  However, understanding the principles of retail will always be important.  The understanding of the ever-changing trends and awareness of the footprint that retail leaves in the world, is integral to the complete understanding of this industry today.
CPUT RSM course is the full package.  Therefore, I would recommend this course to those enthusiastic people that want to be part of the fastest growing industry in the world.

Thank You
Gerhard Uys




Picture23Good Morning Larry

As a store manager in 2016, when I was approached to attend the RSM programme, I couldn’t understand my employers reason for wanting me to attend, as I thought I knew all there was to know about retail, after all, I started as a casual in retail and worked my way up to Store Manager, acquiring a vast amount of experience in the field.

Over the past 2 and a half years of having attended lectures, I was clearly proven wrong, I certainly didn’t know all there was to know about retail. It only dawned on me then that as a store manager, I was merely an implementation manager, not understanding the reasons behind big business decisions, or how my decisions as a store manager impacted my workforce.  But now I have a better understanding of the detail that goes into retail. And as simple as Retail may sound, sell an item to make a profit, there’s so much more to that simple statement that this course has enlightened me on.

A year and a half into the programme, having applied the knowledge I gained and having made better business decisions, I was promoted to regional manager, and at that, of the biggest region my company has and nothing compares to knowing that I’m now making strategic decisions that affect the broader business.

Having to work and study is not easy as it requires a lot of juggling, self-discipline, dedication and sacrifices. The workload is extensive, the exams are nerve wrecking and the POE is enough to make you want to run but break it all down and tackle it one problem at a time and at the end lies success.

In retrospect, I have no regrets of having accepted the invite to study, and the biggest learning aside from the content of the course is, that no matter how high up we are in our respective fields, we don’t always know all that there is about a job that occupies most of our time. It is only through programmes like this, that our gaps are identified and bridged.

Junaid Baccus




[1] NQF level 6 is equivalent to a national diploma or an advanced certificate.