Effect of Employees’ Soft Skills on Performance of Public Energy Sector Projects in Kenya
Musembi, Annastacia Katumbi Kavita
Kyalo, Dorothy Ndunge
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The purpose for this study was to establish the effect of employees’ soft skills on project performance in the sector. In line with these objectives, one hypothesis was developed and pragmatic paradigm adopted to support a mixed method research design. In particular the study employed both cross-sectional and correlation design. Purposive sampling technique was employed to select the projects that were studied. The population comprised all the project supervisors who led the project teams in the ongoing projects in the energy sector ending between January2016 to December 2018. In particular the study focused on the transmission projects, the generation projects, nuclear projects and the distribution projects. A total of 85 ongoing projects were selected. Out of these 9 were used in the pilot study. Therefore 76 projects were chosen for the study. A Questionnaire comprised of closed and open-ended research questions taking the format of five-point Likert-type interval scale was used to assemble primary data from project supervisors. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) program version 23 was utilized to conduct regression analysis, its results used to determine coefficients of multiple regression models, test hypotheses, evaluate reliability of estimated relationship and establish sample regression model. The investigation also found out that the combined employees soft skills positively affect project performance in the energy sector in Kenya (R²=0.633, P=0.00). The study highlights the essential components of employees’ soft skills that would inform effective project performance. The study differed from other studies by empirically showing how comprehensive integration of soft skills can affect project performance and also offers the possibility of contributing to change the way projects are planned, designed and implemented. On the basis of findings, the study recommends that both transactional and transformational leadership styles should be used in the management of projects with a greater emphasis on transformational leadership style. It also advocates for the establishment of clear communication plans with simple and collaborative channels for effective communication. In addition, there should be proper feedback systems, regular communication and free access to information. Communication channels should be chosen depending on the target audience. The research also proposes good stakeholder management in projects. It recommends stakeholder involvement at every stage of the project life cycle. Furthermore, it suggests prompt and adequate compensation of stakeholders, timely completion of projects, innovativeness and proper redress of stakeholder concerns. On the organizational environment, the study advises on the need for improvement on management practices, provision of the appropriate materials and equipment, provision of adequate and timely funding. It also proposes that the challenges in the physical environment should be dealt with besides providing adequate staff with the right skills. The study also suggests that further studies should be carried out in other sectors and countries and that they should involve more soft skills.