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How-To train your Employees on Soft Skills

How-To train your Employees on Soft Skills
AUG 4, 2019 IRENE EMPLOYER'S CORNER

It seems like a sort of Universal Truth these days that Soft Skills are very important and even skill needed by every individual in their personal lives and professional lives. Although, many times people seem to prioritize technical skills over soft skills because they think the (technical) action / practice matters more than the theory.

Nowadays we also see Recruiters advertising vacancies with a lot of emphasis and details on the candidate’s desirable Soft Skills, in addition to the ‘technical ones’. This is because it is the Soft Skills that help an Organization ‘grow’ rather than the Hard/ Technical Skills.

A person who wants to develop themselves in Soft Skills can be trained on how to exhibit good Skills, personally and at their work places.

We all seem to understand the value of Soft Skills and the need for such training both for our personal and professional lives. And nowadays there are both University and Corporate Training organizations that offer all sorts of trainings covering the full spectrum of what is referred to as ‘Soft Skills’.

But… let’s think: how can you really train an employee on Soft Skills? Can you?

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Soft Skills Training: Where / When the problem starts

For those of you who have ever taught an engineering or an accounting class -or any hard skill as a mater of face, they know that it is easy to deliver such a lecture. And, when the exam period comes, it is equally easy to ask their students to pass a test -usually a multiple choice one, showing that they have learned the relevant material and at what depth or level of ‘success’.

Sadly, a lot of lecturers and professional trainers, take the same approach with Soft Skills training. Corporate and University lecturers/ trainers, assume that somehow the students’ / trainees’ behavior would really change as a result of the few hours of lecturing and a set of tests evaluating knowledge transfer. How realistic is that?

Can a few role- playing exercises during a training (of any length) result in any sort of a behavioral change?

Studies have shown that desired behavioral changes always require as a minimum for success, repeated practice with extensive feedback. So, simply put, do not expect any ROI on your Soft Skills training budget, unless you have also plan (and budgeted) regular training -follow ups that will effectively reinforce the desired new behaviors.

And no - there are no Soft Skills Simulators yet, like the ones used to train aeroplane pilots!!

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Soft Skills Evaluation

But before going that far and talk about training…. Can we take an inventory of someone’s Soft Skills and How?

  1. Wrong Measurements

Universities are really like any other businesses go easily measurable data, that can become readily available to address any accreditation requirements. Similarly, Corporate Training organizations, they need measurable quantitative data so that they can draw nice Excel graphics and prove their value to their clients so they can get another training assignments.

But, how either of these types of organizations and their evaluation techniques, could help their attendees/ students by by providing with clear and relevant developmental feedback for the attendees/ students skill improvement? <--Think of that please.

  1. Measuring the… ‘undefined’

Soft Skills are not so clearly defined as to what exactly they are so that leads to plenty of confusion regarding the both the definition and measurement of all possible Soft Skill Levels of Competencies. And it is this very confusion that leads Lecturers and Professional Trainers in using all sorts of ‘self-reporting’ methods like self-reflection essays and knowledge exams. FYI: such approaches can never provide a full and complete picture of any individual’s soft skill proficiency or lead to any actionable developmental feedback.

  1. The Result is….

As with every training that you have possibly attended so far, you will end up with another Trainer-centric and possible irrelevant workshop instead of an excellent attendee-centric training!

But, it seems that this bother very few… Employees perceive the training as ‘vacation time’ (expecially it it si outsid ethe office), the training/ development manage employee has one less thing to go and the University or the training company makes money…

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Soft Skills Evaluation: The Moment of Truth

There is only one way to do that: through a battery of psychometric tests. And there are plenty of good and bad free psychometric tests on the internet, the same way that there are plenty of good and bad professional coaches and psychologists in Ghana and abroad…

This is a big topic that we would possibly address in several articles in the future please.

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11 Ways to Train People on Soft Skills.

Though soft skills are important, it is equally important on how to train individuals on Soft Skill for them to exhibit it. Some of the ways to train people or workforce on Soft Skills are:

  1. Recruit ‘qualifying’ Employees who exhibit and are willing to learn more Soft Skills. Employee should be able to see the direction you are headed to. You need to know how willing the employee is to expand his/her problem solving skills and the technical skills can be looked at later.
  2. Online Learning Platforms whether paid for or free, should be introduced to the employees to learn and develop themselves. But don’t expect that just because someone spend a few hours on Coursera or edX, that they suddenly develop all sort of soft skills overnight!
  3. Give them the opportunity to practice, reflection and refinement. They should be given the chance to work together irrespective of background or level to know their shortcomings.
  4. Allow them to experience practical examples, like making them lead in public speaking where they can feel free and are comfortable failing because it is a learning process. There they would know their short falls and what they have to do to improve.
  5. Another way to train people is by leading with an example. As a leader the way you exhibit the culture and the work environment you establish will either encourage or discourage the staff.
  6. Company values should always comprise of Soft Skills, so once new employees join and these values are lived well in the work environment, they equally live it as well.
  7. Periodically outsource a trainer to train and teach the employees. The employees may need different approach to Soft Skills developing and the trainer may equally have a better approach than your knowing - it is their specialty/ profession after all.
  8. There should be willingness to change and develop themselves. Employees should make up their mind and make themselves available for training and learning.
  9. Staff should be allowed to educate themselves and read more on what soft skills are and understand them.
  10. Evaluation by themselves and by the trainer for them to know their faults and where to work on.
  11. Practice! Practice! Practice! Training without practicing is irrelevant and will not make any impact on both the organization and the staff themselves.

Training people for soft skills can be very challenging as it has less to do with handling anything physical but the feelings, emotions and thoughts of a person.

Manager should not assume soft skills will develop on its own, they need to invest and develop their employees for a better achievement of goals.

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In Conclusion

Any Soft Skills training of any level and any length, will always be challenging since it requires the attendees to change not just the way they think or communicate, but their whole spectrum of behaviors and habits that have been developed over a lifetime.

Unless you follow-up with post-delivery support of the attended trainings, at best you will create just a mild awareness in your organization regarding soft skills.

And make sure that you choose and you interview the lecturer or trainer you are going too use or be supplied with; google Irene’s past postings on this subject.

Thank you and Good Luck,

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Irene and Comfort

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About the Authors:

Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana ( https://HIREgh.com ), a Leading Ghanaian Recruitment Agency and the Prime provider for Soft Skills Training in Ghana (through their HIREseminars services). Comfort Quartey- Papafio is the one heading the HIRESeminars services ( https://hireseminars.com ).

HIREghana can be reached at +233 50 228 5155 or +233 266 555 907 and HIREseminars at +233 50 854 1760.

They both welcome your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press {at} HIREgh . com.

© 2019 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2019 Human Intelligence Recruitment.

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