There’s no doubt that teachable, measurable abilities such as technical and analytical skills are essential for success in the workplace. Companies are largely investing resources to develop employees who are ahead of the curve in the rapidly expanding digital landscape.
Simultaneously, with the expansion of artificial intelligence, we are seeing a shift in focus beyond technical know-how (“hard skills”). In turn, there is a demand for employees to possess “soft skills,” or, qualities including social and emotional intelligence, teamwork, leadership abilities, adaptability, and more.
Keeping in mind the increase of remote work and the future of virtual workplaces, the importance of a team equipped with soft skills is paramount.
Yet, organizations continue to focus more on hard skills training. In order to obtain the benefits of a balanced team, here are ideas and tips for improving your organization’s ability to leverage hard and soft skills.
1. Embrace the distinction between soft and hard skills.
Hard and soft skills are viewed as having different values and ROIs. Training entails different levels of difficulties, and teaching methods may vary as well. We believe soft skills should be viewed as different so that employers can effectively accommodate those distinctions.
2. Consider working harder at measuring ROI.
Most companies do a poor job of measuring training ROI, but those that do it well seem to reap the benefits. Try making the effort to calculate L&D ROI to see if it makes a difference in quality over time. Consider starting with a few programs and then eventually expand such calculations to other programs. Try to be rigorous but don’t allow perfectionism to bog you down. Gather whatever evidence is available to make an informed estimate.
3. Measure management skills.
Most employees rate their managers’ communication skills rather poorly. The first step in correcting this is to gather data in your own organization on communication skills. Once such data is available, address the most pressing shortcomings through whatever methodologies are most effective. Once such training is complete, look for ways to measure effectiveness.
4. Invest in soft skills.
While a majority of organizations report that soft skills are crucial, too often that is not backed up with much of an investment in soft skills training. Start by determining where there are soft skills gaps in your organization. One place to start may be management’s communication skills. Once gaps are identified, formulate an L&D response to close those gaps, then measure the success of an intervention.
5. Take advantage of various training modalities.
It is notable how many different training modalities are seen as useful, and different modalities are useful for different things. Considering both internal and external L&D providers, offer training in various modalities and match those to the learner’s needs. Over time, invest most heavily in the ones that are successful.