Published On: Sat, Feb 27th, 2016

Cultivating the Leaders of Tomorrow: Tips for Employee Soft Skills Training

Soft skills are a challenge for employers. They’re difficult to teach, but they’re essential. It’s much simpler for companies to focus their training efforts on technical skills, but training can fall short when it comes to things like attitude and communication style. These soft skills are not only pivotal for most job roles requiring interpersonal interaction, but they’re also crucial in the development of leaders.

Soft skills refer to those personality traits which can include social skills, personal habits and the ability to manage others. While they are largely looked at as being inherent, it is possible to cultivate and refine these skills with effective training.

Create Intrinsic Rewards

The development or refinement of soft skills really has to come from within, so training should draw off that concept.

Rather than offering extrinsic rewards for successful completing of training, such as money or a prize, consider motivating employees to train because of opportunities for career advancement or upward mobility.

This primes trainees for new opportunities and career development as a form of motivation, which can help in the improvement of soft skills.

Develop Training that Focuses on Critical Thinking

Soft skills aren’t finite, which stands in stark contrast to technical training. Instead, soft skills refer more to how employees approach any given situation and react to the unexpected.

One way to help employees think more about improving their soft skills is by delivering training focused on critical thinking. Present case studies, videos and other situational training resources and then ask employees how they would approach the situations. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer in this kind of training, but rather answers are open-ended and designed to facilitate a deeper level of thinking than core competencies training.

How do you train soft skills in 2016?

How do you train soft skills in 2016?

Evoke Emotions

Soft skills are about appropriately responding to a variety of situations and acquiring a sense of empathy. This is vital to strong leadership skills, so jumpstart these abilities by creating training that sparks emotion, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, frustration or any other feeling employees may experience.

When employees feel a strong sense of emotion during training, it’s likely to provide them with a more substantial foundation to deal with challenging situations faced by leaders. It’s also a way to improve the comprehension and retention of materials presented during training.

Incorporate Mentorships Into Training

Soft skills often can’t be fully understood or taught through traditional training methods, such as classroom or online training.

Instead, they’re learned through real-life experience. This is why mentorships are an especially valuable component of soft skills training. Pair veteran, more experienced workers with younger workers to facilitate better soft skills training.

Provide Ample Feedback

Feedback is essential in soft skills training, but not just basic feedback that lets trainees know whether they’re “right” or “wrong.” Instead, feedback should happen immediately, be open, honest and transparent, and be ongoing.

You can also create training feedback that’s a two-way dialogue, so trainees are not only receiving feedback on their performance, but they can also offer their thoughts and opinions on their own performance as well as training in general. This type of conversation begins facilitating stronger communication proficiency, which is the basis of soft skills.

Meeting the Challenge

Soft skills training is undeniably challenging, but also a worthwhile investment for businesses of all sizes. This is particularly true in the digital age, where employees often find themselves more adept at online and virtual communication than the in-person communication that’s pivotal to being a strong leader. With a focus on effective, engaging training, employers can enhance their employees’ soft skills and develop their future leadership base more adequately.

Guest Author: Carmelo Hannity

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