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A decade ago, job seekers boasted about what they could do: expertise in software, experience with tactical responsibilities, and skills to create plans to follow to a T. The things a job seeker could do and the experience in the field or role were top indicators of a qualified candidate. Emotional IQ? Communication skills? Although necessary, these soft skills were of less importance to hiring managers.
As the corporate world has and is still experiencing a profound shift in how candidates are recruited, vetted, hired, and trained, qualifications have also shifted. Now, feeling is as important as doing. Leaders are beginning to recognize the vital soft skills that can not only make a great leader but also create a more engaging workplace (and one in which employees stick around).
Soft skills have become so crucial that researchers believe 75% of job success stems from them. Here is the challenge: hard skills are much easier to teach than soft skills. If your employee needs to learn a specific software to complete their job, they’ll be able to access tutorials, manuals, and hands-on training to master it. Training isn't as simple if your employee needs to learn how to manage their time better or communicate in a more empathetic way.
Teaching soft skills is a complex process. Some people have naturally developed specific soft skills – clear communication or a knack for being organized – while others may not have a natural strength. For instance, a neurodivergent employee who has difficulty with time management or an employee new to the workforce with little experience being adaptable or thinking critically would need some help in their development of soft skills. L&D professionals need to balance innate soft skill mastery with beneficial training for weaker skills, all while considering employees’ position, long-term goals, and willingness to address weaknesses and actively work to strengthen them.
L&D teams who find the perfect mix for soft skills training help their organizations build more productive employees.
Soft skills combine people skills, communication skills, attitudes, and social and emotional intelligence. Specifically, some vital soft skills include attitude, work ethic, teamwork, time management, decision making, conflict resolution, and empathy. Training can support any type of soft skill. If you’re not sure where to start, here are three soft skills and some ideas for training development.
Conflict training can be tricky. After all, conflict creeps up when you least expect it. Conflict resolution techniques, however, can be developed into guidelines for employees to follow. VR and AR are innovative ways to help your employees role play conflict situations and utilize tried and true techniques in a low-risk environment.
As they say, attitude is everything. A positive attitude can make a much more productive and engaging workforce. But coaching your team to have a better attitude can easily backfire, especially for those employees who have a negative outlook in general. Training starts with demonstrating how a positive attitude looks in the workplace. Attitude is a habit, and the best way to change your routine is a regular practice. Microlearning sessions that include positive affirmations, mindfulness activities, and video demonstrations that are available regularly will help build a positive attitude.
Defining what supports your employees' needs for time management and organization training starts with a needs assessment. Ask your employees their goals, what they’re struggling with, resources they believe would make their jobs more manageable, and how collaborations affect their work processes. A needs assessment will help you identify roadblocks your team may be facing with managing their time – difficult vendors who hold up projects, hard skills that they could strengthen, or more help with their work.
Custom learning isn’t just for hard skills. Your organization can help your team with personal development, supporting their future career goals, and helping your company be more productive and engaged.
Help your employees build emotional connections and retain what they learn more effectively in our white paper, Build Emotional Connections with Learning.