Workplace Training: Steps in Developing a Training Culture
Most job applications and interviewing processes are fitted to review the hard skills of the applicant. While it is important to verify an individual’s expertise, credentials and job experience, it is equally important to ascertain a candidate’s ability to exercise soft skills in the workplace.
For workers and consumers, soft skills have become the interpersonal glue that binds technical know-how with a positive attitude.
Soft skills, also known as people skills or emotional intelligence, are generally not skills that a transcript, reference check or face to face interview will verify. They are skills that allow people to successfully and consistently perform their duties while interacting with coworkers, supervisors, and consumers.
According to a 2014 Survey of 100+ NYC Hureco Maverick Clients The Top Three Desired Soft Skills Are:
1. Positive attitude
2. Strong work Ethic
3. Good communication skills
Developing a Training Culture
Soft skills training as a part of a workplace training program can be a first step in building an organizational culture of continuous training and development on the pathway to becoming a learning organization. The creation of knowledge networks is vital in peer-to-peer training and becomes the main means by which information and especially behaviors are conveyed. Soft skills are ideal behavioral traits and can best be translated into action by organizations that adhere to Peter Senge’s five hallmarks that define the learning organization: (a) systems thinking, (b) personal mastery, (c) examination of mental models, (d) building shared vision, and (e) team learning.*
Soft skills training can be anything from being courteous, reliable, flexible, and empathetic to speaking clearly and to having critical problem solving abilities. All soft skills relate back to the implementation of hard skills — know-how and technical expertise. To be successful, entry-level workers, executives, and everyone in between needs continuous training to improve their soft skills.
Soft Skills Development
A multitude of factors such as gender, ethnicity, and socialization experiences inform an individual’s soft skill set, so re-programming new habits to improve soft skills requires careful planning. There are a variety of ways to train employees to recognize desired soft skills and to encourage personal improvement in soft skills. Inviting inspirational speakers for motivational lectures, performing team exercises, and distributing information via handouts or the like have all proven to be effective ways to help individuals develop these skills. It may be more of a challenge to help individuals maintain those newly learned skills later.
Staff members will become excited for the first week or so after a soft skills training, but eventually, their interest in soft skills will begin to wane. Trainees will likely pick up their old habits because those habits are familiar. This is the most challenging cycle to overcome with soft skill training and is why reinforcement is so vital. A strong support system helps reinforce new habits. Team members possessing strong soft skills can become coaches and mentors who continually push and reinforce the training. Supervisors can also be useful by offering employees positive reinforcement when they notice employees who are actively attempting to change. Furthermore, keeping communications open between all employees is helpful during the transition phase. Some companies dedicate web sites and forums where their employees can voice their opinions and talk about their experiences. Other companies set aside time for meetings to encourage team discussion and support.
Individuals can also seek ways to improve their soft skills. Actively paying attention to daily habits related to social interactions and job performance is the first step. Comparing your current habits with the desired soft skills set can help establish goals. Finally, asking for help from trusted individuals who display strong soft skills can help create a personal support system.
Dedicating time and resources to soft skills training can show a return on investment through the rise of team synergy and a boost in morale and productivity. Let’s us help, contact us now!
*Peter Senge is the author of the best-selling book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, focusing on group problem solving using the systems thinking method in order to convert companies into learning organizations.