What are soft skills?
If you search the term online, it is defined by Google as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”
At the heart, soft skills are all about people skills. They are the abilities that allow you to navigate your environment, work well with others, perform and achieve goals.
2. Type of soft Skills
- Taking responsibility
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Negotiation and Conflict resolution
These interpersonal skills are essential for success in the workplace, yet talent development professionals often face challenges in getting support for soft skills training as well as effectively implementing and sustaining these programs.
Why Soft skills critical to freshers/students?
Whenever you plan to take time out of your students’ days for training, it’s important to understand why the training is worth it.
1. Managers and leaders are validating the impact of soft skills at work (Companies):
- 77% -of employers believe that soft skills are equally important to hard skills in the workplace (Career Builder).
- 67% – of HR managers say they would hire a candidate with strong soft skills even if their technical abilities were lacking.
- Just 9%– of HR managers would hire someone with strong technical credentials but weak soft skills (International Association of Administrative Professionals OfficeTeam and HR.com).
2. Reasons Soft Skills can’t be overlooked.
- Miscommunication at the workplace costs companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 a year (SHRM).
- Soft skills training in areas like communication and problem-solving boosts productivity and retention by 12%. This type of training delivers a 250% return on investment based on higher productivity and retention (Boston College, Harvard University and the University of Michigan).
- Students who incorporate a range of soft skills can increase their performance (Work place) by as much as 30% (Hay Group).
Challenges faced by TPO promoting soft skills
1. Balance a variety of organizational challenges, such as:
- Volume of training needed
- Students time constraints
- Resource allocation
- Budget availability
- Return on investment
As TPO address this need, they should be cognizant of two additional challenges that come along with implementing soft skills training:
2. HELPING INDIVIDUALS UNDERSTAND WHEN TO APPLY THESE APTITUDES.
In technical training, there is typically an obvious time to implement learnings. For example, let’s say your students were trained on a process for accepting new vendors. When students start to engage a vendor, they have a clear signal to use their training. Students do not necessarily have unambiguous signals to use soft skills training, so talent development teams need to find ways to help students understand when and how to employ their learnings.
3. ENCOURAGING FEEDBACK.
Providing real-time, constructive feedback students’ soft skills helps them connect behavior to performance, encouraging them to remember and apply their training
How do you start implementing soft skills training?
To be successful, you need to understand your students’ goals and effectively evaluate your options
1. IDENTIFY EXISTING STUDENTS CHALLENGES.
The most successful talent development programs are tied to core students’ challenges or opportunities. Consider what you are trying to solve with your training programs.
2. EVALUATE WHAT PROGRAMS HAVE OR HAVE NOT WORKED IN THE PAST.
Work with your fellow talent development or human resource team members to identify programs that have been successful and why they were successful. Use these questions as thought starters:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What soft skill training, if any, have you implemented before?
- What types of training do your students most enjoy and get the most out of?
- What types of programs work best in your organization? Two-hour, half-day or full-day programs? In-person or eLearning courses? A combination?
- What training pace works best for your students?
- What strategies have worked in the past to keep training top-of-mind after they have concluded? What would success look like for this program in the short-term and long-term?
3. RESEARCH OPTIONS.
Now that you have an understanding of what challenges you want to solve and what types of training have worked in the past, you can begin evaluating workshops and programs.
As you research your options, make sure to ask your potential partners how they have helped students address the challenges and opportunities you see within your organization.
4. FORMULATE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS AND BUILD YOUR CASE.
After you’ve conducted your research and made your selection, start building your students case and be sure to answer the following questions:
- What students’ challenges will be addressed with this program?
- What data supports the effectiveness of the training?
- How does it fit into your organization’s strategic initiatives?
- How will you communicate about the training, roll it out and sustain it?
- What are the project timelines and milestones?
- Who will be involved?
- How will you measure success?
- How will you adjust course?
5. GET APPROVAL AND BEGIN IMPLEMENTATION.
Once you receive support for your soft skills initiative, use your students’ case to create an action plan for implementation. Consider the why, how, who and what, and gain momentum for the program among leadership, HODs and staff.
After you’ve implemented your solution, the work isn’t done. Set metrics and make sure that you regularly assess the program. Report on the success you have seen as well as any changes you are making to optimize the trainings so that management teams continue to see the value of your program.