A Short and Sweet Guide to Soft Skills Training
Group of employees in soft skills training

A Short and Sweet Guide to Soft Skills

We’re all well versed in the benefits of soft skills training. Research has shown that they account for 90% of what makes people progress up the ladder. Whilst soft and hard skills should work in harmony – the so called softer, people focused skills can be difficult to master.

In the interest of keeping life simple and cutting through the noise surrounding this topic, our employee relations and soft skills training manager has summarised some of the ‘must-haves’ for your organisation:

what is causing the soft skills issue

Look to the root cause of the issue

We often see organisations implementing soft skills training to deal with difficult behaviour (for example) rather than addressing the difficult behaviour itself. If you have a good training partner, they will be able to help you identify what is causing the problem, and the most sensible way to tackle it. Which brings us nicely on to point number two…

Whatever you do, ensure your soft skills training is targeted

The old days of the ‘sheep-dip’ approach to learning and development is well behind us. A knee-jerk reaction to an issue that has arisen in your organisation may feel like a topical and timely solution, but few long-term benefits will be seen.

Consider what your organisation is striving to achieve and how the development will contribute towards it. Once you have identified the need, ensure the training be is tailored by subject area and audience.

Make it accessible

Avoid organising training that will happen at ‘sometime in the future’. The individual has a need now and excessive waiting for a development need to be satisfied – will frustrate the individual and may have a detrimental effect on other employees as well as the business.

Avoid three to five-day classroom theory-based management development programmes. They may provide lots of great content but trying to embed even a small percentage of the learning back in the workplace can be challenging. Think short, sharp, to the point training sessions that are easily accessible and deliver practical tools and techniques that can be practiced immediately.

Our best example of this is a new digital learning tool on the market – 10 to 3. We use 10 to 3’s animated learning videos as a tool to complement our blended learning programmes. The short courses allow our clients and delegates to start thinking about learning and development, whilst fitting well around our busy lives and even busier inboxes.

Then….it’s about clever planningclever planning for soft skills training

The delivery of this ‘short and sharp’ approach is then about good planning. Work together with your training partner to plan efficient, effective and targeted sessions based on what you have identified as your need. You can plan to run 3-4 sessions in one day targeting different subjects and different people.

Trust us, it’s more achievable and will accomplish the long-term behaviour change your organisation is looking for.

It’s not just HR or L&D’s job – get managers bought in too

It is surprising the amount of times we learn that managers aren’t aware what training their employees are receiving.

Involve managers in the who, what and importantly the why. This will allow them to give their teams the opportunity to practice and improve their newfound skills and behaviours rather than just asking ‘how was that training?’ and do nothing with it.

This approach will also allow your organisation to map results back to a training initiative and start to feel the drumbeat of what you are trying to achieve.

digital learning at vistaIndividual learners have a responsibility, too

From an individual learners’ perspective, encourage them to own their learning and development. Give them the ‘so what’ factor during every training session they attend.

Evaluate the results you see with them too. Illustrate the difference the organisation has seen and how they have been part of achieving this.

Invest in the future of your employees

Finally, think about the future. It’s not just about what’s applicable to the role that your employees are currently in, but it’s what might be applicable for the future roles that they have been identified for.

Isn’t it better to train your budding supervisor on how to manage the entire disciplinary process well for when they take that next step in their career? Rather than just giving them the first level of training that they need right at this moment. There is nothing worse than being thrown in at the deep end as a first-time manager with no experience of managing a full formal HR process.

With OD and succession planning a priority for organisations, we’re seeing more and more of this mindset taking hold, which is great news!

Start to embed a culture

An accessible soft skills development programme is a great opportunity to embed learning as part of your daily working life. If we revisit our point on targeting your training, doing this right will ensure that your programmes are customised and collaborated in a way that makes the application of new knowledge a natural next step for your employees.

The result? Employee engagement, progression, retention, improved customer service, operational delivery, and a thriving organisational culture you can be proud of.

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