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How To Teach Soft Skills - 5 Tips For Facilitating Soft Skills Training

Teaching soft skills in the workplace is a practice that is being embraced by more and more forward-thinking employers today. Businesses are actively seeking certain personality traits in their new hires; or at the very least, the drive and ability to learn new soft skills at work. And it's not only employers that are viewing soft skills development as a positive business attribute- the younger generation of workers view the encouragement of self-development at work as a mark of a good employer, and one of the key ingredients in their overall  job satisfaction.

In 2016, the World Economic Forum identified the 10 top skills needed to thrive in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, stating that: “Five years from now, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.”  The skills that they identified as being important in the future were:

  1. Cognitive flexibility
  2. Negotiation
  3. Service orientation
  4. Judgement and decision making
  5. Emotional intelligence
  6. Co-ordinating with others
  7. People management
  8. Creativity
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Complex problem solving

And they don’t seem far off in their prediction. This year, Linked-In Learning have concluded from their research, that the five most sought-after soft skills required in 2019 are:

Creativity; Persuasion; Collaboration; Adaptability, and Time management

doctors brain map head, depicting soft skills

Why Soft Skills?

In this modern world of AI; computer learning; chat-bots, and Gamification, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Soft skills give employees and job-seekers a chance to shine in an increasingly cold, computerised work environment- and it’s something that is becoming more popular and highly regarded by employers today, with L&D departments striving to develop staff’s ability in the key soft skill areas, deemed necessary for business well-being and staff retention.

But how does one go about teaching a soft skill? Unlike its counterpart, the ‘hard’ skill, it’s not always such a cut-and-dry affair. However, there are a few ways in which soft skills can be harnessed and taught by employers, that will enable them to grow their workforce’s value immensely.

How To Teach A Soft Skill:

There are many different ways to teach a soft skill but the main point to remember is that soft skill learning is not always a quick process. Learning soft-skills is often about challenging and changing a person's long-established habits and even personality traits, making soft skills a traditionally challenging thing to teach. Here are five tips to help you facilitate and train your team in soft skills:

1. It starts with a new hire

Hiring the right people for the job is always a top priority. You may consider things like: ‘are they technically able to perform the job’, and ‘will they gel well with the team’- but do you look at their willingness to learn new things? How about their drive for learning? Finding someone who is open to learning and improving is the first step to upgrading your team’s soft skills.

man, hiring a new person

2. What do you want?

Before you jump in at the deep-end and start arranging courses for your employees to attend, you need to decide what you aim to achieve from their training- what is your desired outcome? Not only do you need to ask yourself this, but it’s important to include your employees in this decision-making stage, for several reasons. Firstly, buy-in from your employees will mean that they are more switched-on and open to any learning required of them. Secondly, you may discover missing skills that you’d never even considered. Your team know their own weaknesses better than you do, so use that to your advantage, to gauge what your team needs/wants to improve on.

speech bubbles, what soft skills do your employees need to train in

3. Create A Soft-Skills Curriculum

Structure is an obviously important aspect to any type of training. Creating a structure for your soft skills training is no different. Your soft skills curriculum will more likely than not, be more classroom-based and collaborative than other training you currently do with your employees. It’s important to include things like: role-playing, cooperative learning, and group projects- to enable real soft-skills learning, as things like teamwork can’t be taught with an online quiz!

tactics, building a curriculum for soft skills training

4. Keeping track of training

Keeping track of your employees’ training status is imperative to maintaining a functioning curriculum. Using a training management system makes keeping track of your employees’ goals, objectives and certificates simple by automating the whole process. With a training management system, You can keep track of your staff training records; remind them when they have training scheduled; allow them to book onto courses, and award them for completion, as well as gathering post-course feedback and reports to help you improve your delivery. Easy!

calendar for training

5. Encourage independent learning

As well as creating a structured learning curriculum, make sure your employees have the time and freedom to pursue their own soft-skills learning during the working week. Many workplaces choose to do this in the form of book-clubs or scheduled personal learning time. Supplying resources, like books and webinars for staff, to help them develop soft skills further to their official training.

independent learning medal

Find out more about managing your internal training efficiently:

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Further Reading:

- A Guide For Internal Training Teams - How To Save Time

- Getting Your Learners To Take Accountability For Their Own Learning 

- 6 Ways To Make Compliance Training Easy

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