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In today’s digital world, it can become easy to hide behind the computer screen. Automated training still provides a personalized experience for learners but hinders the face-to-face interaction we all need.
There are all kinds of resources out there for “tangible” workplace training such as instructional design, gamification, virtual training … and more. But what about those “interpersonal” or soft skills? Those deserve just as much attention!
Soft skills are the personality traits, intrinsic social cues, characteristics, and communication abilities needed for success on the job. These skills characterize how a person interacts in his or her relationships with others.
Some of the more common workplace soft skills include:
Many hiring managers are finding it just as important—if not more—for a candidate to have strong soft skills. Nearly every job requires employees to engage with others in some form, so being able to interact well with others is important.
Soft skills training is core to organizational and employee success. These skills are not learned or perfected in a one-and-done course or workshop—they can be developed through multiple training experiences over an extended time period.
Soft skills are not easy to measure, but it doesn’t mean they can’t ever be measured. Work on setting specific performance goals around measurable soft skills, such as customer service or communication skills. An example here is surveying customers on their satisfaction. If there’s a 15% increase, then it is mostly likely a direct result of your learner’s progress on polishing their communication and customer service soft skills. This type of quantifiable measurement allows you to track a learner’s progress. If they fail to meet a goal number within a certain time frame, then they may need additional coaching or support.
E-learning scenarios offer a powerful, low-risk way in helping learners develop soft skills. Learners will find it interactive and engaging while providing them the freedom to explore real world consequences without the risk. For instance, if you are working to train on conflict resolution skills, create an e-learning scenario that features characters and various decisions the learner must make in order to resolve a common business issue (such as compromising on a budget). The learner will get a firm grasp on how their reactions and behaviors positively or negatively impact others without worry of real-life repercussions. From there, they can work to alter undesirable behaviors and build skills for successful conflict resolution while dealing with others in the real world.
Sure, it seems like a great way to save time and money by grouping a lot of different soft skill sets into one e-learning course or workshop, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best. Oftentimes, it will produce less-than-desirable results. It’s best to focus on one defined soft skill at a time, so learners have the chance to really build on it. So instead of having learners spend an hour going through simulations and 50 PowerPoint slides, reduce the e-learning course down to 10-15 minutes and really keep it focused on a specific soft skill, such as critical thinking. Use a variety of online tools and exercises so that they can explore the skills from many different angles and in different applications.
Recent research on current insights in workplace learning preferences found that employees want engaging content that is easy to consume, fast, and that is relevant both on and off the job. Also important is the ability to learn at their own pace, with anytime, anywhere access via multiple devices. The application of this for soft skills training is straightforward. To ensure success, well-designed e-learning courses should include:
Choose top-quality content, and the next time someone tells you that e-learning doesn’t work for soft skills training, you can tell them to think again.
Studies by Harvard University and others report returns of more than 250% after soft skills training was implemented … a huge return-on-investment for any organization! Building skills that are critical to gaining new customers, enhancing collaboration, driving innovation, and improving business results no doubt constitutes a good spend for organizations.
As you’re looking to polish up your own soft skills and training materials, The Bob Pike Group’s Train the Trainer Boot Camp is a great place to start! Whether you’re a subject matter expert looking to be a more effective communicator or a leader looking to increase employee motivation and engagement (all soft skills!), then this is the course is for you.