Updated: Dec 19, 2022
The importance of soft skills is sometimes undervalued and unappreciated mostly in the workplace. Let’s look at the work of a Software Developer, a Sales Person, the HR staff and others.
Soft skills enable individual Staff to function in teams at work in a coherent and peaceful way. These abilities are necessary for a person to improve and succeed in the team or organization where they work.
A company can use its learning management system (LMS) to support employees develop their soft skills to deal with challenges, people, and changing working conditions.
Have you heard the saying - Your attitude will determine your altitude? Or hire for attitude and train for skills? I am sure you have.
Now let us paint a scenario -
You have hired the most qualified IT staff, with a 1st class degree in computer science and an MSc in Cyber Security. You also brought in a very competent Human Resources Manager to oversee your organization's people strategy. Also, your Head of sales is a genius when it comes to closing deals and bringing in the business.
Now this is where it gets tricky.
The IT guy is a snub, does not believe in cooperating with others and thinks every other person is not as smart. He hoards the work and whenever he doesn’t agree with the others, he will not support the project.
The Human Resources Manager came from a different industry and lacks the wisdom or open-mindedness to listen and learn from others. It seems she’s in competition with the rest of the team leaders.
Finally the super-performing Head of Sales always leaves casualties along the way. In meeting his target, he is aggressive, has no regard for long-term relationships with the customers and has so much arrogance. “ Afterall, I am the one carrying this business” - he always tells the rest of the office.
What would you say is the challenge with each of these employees? Are they not competent in their jobs? Yes they certainly are. Do they have the skills - yes they do. Are they meeting targets? Yes they are.
However, they lack something very crucial - THE SOFTER ELEMENTS OF LIFE or what is popularly referred to as soft skills.
What are Soft Skills
When someone applies for a job, they usually read the job description to see what qualifications are required for this position. For instance, a management needs business skills, and a teacher needs teaching credentials. Hard skills are the type of requirements that are specifically connected to the job for which the applicant is applying. Because they are a prerequisite for many jobs, hard skills are prioritized in employment recruiting ads. A person can take lessons, learn from books, and work as an apprentice to develop hard skills.
Soft skills on the other hand aren’t specialized in the truest sense, but are equally essential to acquire. Soft skills are also termed as professional or transferable skills, and are more generic in nature. They focus on an individual’s attitude and intuitive skills.
Hard skills can get you through the door of the company, but it is the soft skills that keep you there.
Soft skills have been known to be the greater determinant of your career growth and success in life. When combined with your technical and hard skills and knowledge, a person can attain top and superior performance and a much richer life experience.
Some highly rated soft skills include:
Problem solving skills
Critical observation skills
Critical thinking skills
To buttress this point further, Linkedin Learning, in a 2020 article distinguished between the Top 5 Soft Skills and Top 10 hard skills you need to succeed in the future. These are shown below:
When we conduct trainings for employees of organizations, we always ask them to rate themselves in these skills and the results are usually shocking to them. In today’s world, you need to develop your mental, emotional and behavioral capacity much more and these will dovetail into motivating you to acquire the hard skills.
5 Ways to Develop Soft Skills with Your LMS
Teaching an employee to create a report or dispatch a shipment is extremely easy. There’s are a series of fixed protocols the employee has to follow to complete that task.
Soft skills on the other hand are not as predefined and tangible. Soft skills are very tricky to train and transfer to others as it depends a lot on the perspectives, opinions and experiences of the instructor. You almost have to unlearn what you know and learn something new, practice it everyday and keep relearning till you are able to apply these skills in different situations. And that is why you need your own Learning Platform to achieve this.
Simply put, a Learning Management System (LMS) is the platform where you can host your own training contents and administer the learning to your employees, track their learning journey and issue certificates, all from the comfort of their locations, on any devices, at any time. With recent developments in technology, owning a LMS has become very easy and affordable and lots of small businesses and large corporations are enjoying the benefits.
With your LMS, you can design and host as many Soft Skills Trainings as you can and improve and empower your employees to reach higher potentials.
Now let us look at five ways in which your business or company can use LMS to develop and deploy soft skills training for your people:
Host Unlimited Contents, Unlimited Learning
With LMS, there is no limit to the number of courses you can host and share at the same time. Unlike physical trainings that employees attend once or twice a year, the LMS can present say 10 or 20 courses or modules to your employees at the same time and they can select and learn based on their time schedule. So within 3 months, an employee can take 5 classes and earn Certificates of completion and complete individual and group projects.
The Creation of Collaborative Tools to Infuse Teamwork
All LMS platforms nowadays offer collaborative tools such as file sharing, virtual meets, etc. Such interactive features offer options to a company’s employees to discuss and collaborate on their ongoing projects, schedule their meetings. LMS systems offer employees the option to work as part of a group even when they aren’t based in one location. This kind of teamwork helps to build trust wherein each employee within the group learns how to accomplish their goals individually as well as collectively to complete the project.
As a business owner, learning has to be organized. In addition to your employees going on YouTube or Google to seek knowledge, your LMS can help them better organise their learning process. You can embed videos from YouTube, link the video to a topic, share an article, give them an assignment and at the end conduct an exam that delivers certificates to only those that scored 70% for example.
With Soft Skills development, you cannot leave it to chance. Your organization is different, your location is unique and your people must be able to customize their learning to benefit the company.
Inspiring Creativity Through Whiteboards and Forums
Creativity is one of the attributes that separates the movers & shakers from the fence-sitters in the corporate world. Most learning management systems always incorporate features such as whiteboards, which allow trainees to collectively work with their team members to discuss ideas by sharing notes, slides, sheets, and drawings. The LMS gives them the option of taking their conversation beyond just the verbal or written. The trainees discover new methods and ideas of letting their creativity flow and improve by using these features.
Simulations & On-the-Job Training Situations
A modern day learning management systems come equipped with features like simulations that mimic on-the-job training processes. Simulations allow a company to create real word situations that test an employee’s training and thinking without putting customers, resources, or other employees at risk. This teaches the employees how to assess the pros and cons of different work situations they will face. The more decisive and sharper an employee’s critical thinking skills get, the better they become at making good decisions for the benefit of their organization
Learning Communication Skills with Social Learning
Communication skills are essential in every industry vertical. An LMS platform helps improve and hone a trainee’s communication skills by using social learning. Social learning comes with features such as news feeds, user-generated content, Q&As, chats, ratings, reviews, etc. It teaches employees different ways to engage, practice, and improve their communication skills in a safe and contained environment.
Setting up Goals Based on Soft Skills
The setting up of goals is considered an important aspect to run a successful business. Every organization must find a way to monitor their employee’s progress to ensure that their business goals are achieved. An LMS comes equipped with performance-related features that allow L&D managers to monitor the progress of the employees and assign milestones to them. These goals encourage employees to improve their performance. For example, measuring customer satisfaction will help an organization assess an employee’s communication skills. An increase in productivity indicates how an employee has learned better time management.
SO WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
No matter the level within the organization, everyone needs continuous training on Soft and Behavioral Skills. The top executives need Political Skills, Strategic Thinking, Visioning, Leadership Skills, and Decisiveness.
The Middle Managers need lots of emotional intelligence, negotiation skills, collaboration, persuasion, communication skills and more.
Further down the ladder, we need our employees to have communication skills, service attitudes, exhibit teamwork, problem solving skills, creativity and more.
Therefore, all Heads of Human resources, Learning departments, business owners, senior executives must priorities the development of the soft skills of their people:
Identify their areas of challenges
Design the programmes
Digitalize the programmes or acquire already digitised versions and customize for your business or region.
Host on the LMS
Administer the training and track impact.
Partner with a reputable eLearning company to do the heavy lifting if any of the above proves challenging.
From all of us at Sapphital Enterprise, this is hoping you have a High-Performing team that achieves your strategic objectives. If you have any comments on this article or require further clarification or just to add your own perspective, do use the comment section below or send us an email.