How to Create Effective Soft Skills Training
A frustrated customer calls your support line—and they’re gunning for a fight. But instead of responding defensively, your star specialist, Amar, listens. He navigates the conversation empathetically, and—through his compassion—builds loyalty from frustration.
Soft skills like Amar’s are fundamental to business success. These people skills, attitudes, personality traits, and behaviors aren’t job-specific, and yet they’re some of the most desirable skills an employee can have. Empathy, time management, conflict resolution, negotiation, networking, and creative thinking are all examples of soft skills.
No matter the business or industry, soft skills translate to success. Leaders motivate people and communicate with team members using soft skills. Marketers use them to understand buyers. And sales reps see firsthand how soft skills boost their performance and potential.
When you invest in developing employees’ soft skills, you not only invest in your company but also support each team member’s personal growth, engagement, and productivity.
We’ve outlined the steps needed to create effective soft skills training so that employees understand and master these essential skills. So, let’s get started.
Determine the soft skills needed for a job
While soft skills complement virtually every position in a company, some roles benefit from certain soft skills more than others. For example, a hiring manager will need to brush up on reducing interviewer bias, whereas a customer service rep might focus on perfecting their conflict resolution skills. That’s why determining which soft skills are most needed for each job should be your first step.
Establish the soft skills required using these three methods:
- Review your company’s job descriptions. Most will include a list of soft skills that are required or helpful for particular roles. This creates an easy starting point for developing a list of soft skills for each job role.
- Ask managers for input. Another option is to have various department managers share what soft skills their team members need to succeed. What skills are non-negotiable? Which ones are nice to have?
- Get employees to chime in. And finally, ask people in specific roles about the soft skills they use frequently. Where do they struggle? And what do they wish they could learn or perfect?
Following the above steps, you can compile a comprehensive list of soft skills needed for each role.
Assess the soft skills a person already has
Next, move to the individual level. Looking at each employee, what skills do they naturally have—and what skills do they need to practice? A soft skills assessment, or evaluation, can help you match their needs to the right training.
So, how’s that done? One option is to purchase a soft skills assessment. These tests are often generalized, though, and may not apply to all your learners.
Another option is to build your own soft skills assessment—which is easy to do in Rise. Rise is an all-in-one online training system that lets you design unique and engaging assessments. With Rise, assessments are easy to create and enjoyable for people to take.
A few assessments to consider include:
- Knowledge checks. Knowledge checks are an easy way to quiz learners. Choose from multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, and matching assessments to see what learners already know—or don’t. If your learner answers correctly, they’ll cement their knowledge with additional feedback. If they don’t, they’ll identify a soft skill they need to strengthen.
- Sorting activities. Let’s say you want to discuss the do’s and don’ts of showing empathy. Sorting activities let learners drag-and-drop phrases into different categories. For example, “do offer support,” but “don’t try to change a person’s emotions” are phrases that demonstrate empathy. Sorting activities are ungraded, but learners get immediate feedback for right and wrong answers. When finished, they’ll see how many they got right on the first attempt.
- Branching scenarios. Branching scenarios give learners real-life examples complete with dialogue, responses, and feedback that vary based on how a learner answers. Decision-making interactions, such as scenarios, are ideal for gauging how well learners can navigate challenging situations, like the one faced by Amar.
Provide soft skills training and practice
You’ve identified what soft skills different jobs require. And you’ve helped your learners understand where they excel—and where they need work. Now it’s time to implement soft skills training so that learners can practice and improve.
Traditional approaches to soft skills training include mentoring, apprenticeships, and in-person training. But it’s not always easy to find employees with the time and training expertise to take a new employee under their wing. Likewise, an instructor can model behavior in a classroom setting, but the success of this type of training is only as strong as the instructor’s skills. It’s also worth noting that some situations—such as having employees in a lot of different locations—make in-person training costly and difficult.
Online training can address these challenges, helping you create a consistent, dynamic, and customized training experience that learners can access 24/7.
For example, with Rise, you can embed a video to show how Amar—the star specialist who previously saved the day—uses problem-solving, critical thinking, empathy, and flexibility when communicating with a customer. Then, after learners see Amar model these essential soft skills, a flashcard interaction presents phrases that Amar shared in his video. On the back of each card is a description of the soft skill Amar used, and why it worked.
Or perhaps you want to measure time management skills in the engineering department. With Rise, you can present a realistic workplace issue with back-and-forth dialogue using a scenario block and branching. Your engineers can read the scenario, respond to questions, and then get directed through a specific path with feedback and responses based on their individual answers. This training strategy provides immediate feedback and reinforcement of the soft skills you want to nurture.
You can build content from scratch, or use a Rise example course like this one on communication skills to kick-start your soft skills training. Rise courses are customizable, carefully researched, and professionally designed. You can use them as they are, edit to your heart’s content, and mix in your own content.
No matter how you design your training, give learners as many chances as possible to hone their soft skills. With online training, they can practice the soft skills that they haven’t yet mastered in a safe space.
Give continuous feedback
Finally, you’ll want to provide ongoing feedback to learners. It’s much easier to address a soft skills gap in the initial stages of learning. Regular feedback and coaching increases employee efficiency, effectiveness, and even boosts morale.
This is where Rise is especially helpful. With Rise reports, you can generate unique, easy-to-interpret reports that show how learners are progressing through their courses and learning path(s)—and how they’re performing. Reviewing these reports, coupled with your own observations of the learner’s job performance, can help you have more targeted, constructive coaching sessions with your employees.
Having excellent soft skills makes navigating both personal and professional situations easier. Be thoughtful when deciding what roles need what types of soft skills, and take time to assess learners’ abilities to determine what skills they need to strengthen. Finally, develop online training that nurtures these skills. When you do, you’ll support your learners’ personal development, and empower team members to think independently, work collaboratively, and solve problems within the organization.