Society values know-how, expertise and technical skills, but remember that companies are, above all, human organizations.
What does that mean, actually?
Companies are made up of men and women working together. In doing so, they have to deal with all kinds of situations that require special skills that are neither technical nor specialized.
In other words, the employees’ technical knowledge is necessary but it is not enough to manage their daily missions and reach the objectives of their company. There is a growing need for ‘soft skills’.
Would you like to find out how to develop your team’s soft skills to achieve your growth goals and improve your work environment?
What are soft skills ?
Soft skills definition
In business, ‘hard skills’ are often contrasted with 'soft skills’, or ‘behavioral skills’. This refers to human-centric skills. They are general, transversal and adaptable to any type of position.
Behavioral skills: examples
Would you like a few examples? No need to look far, everyone uses them every day, all day long, without necessarily realizing it.
Here are some of the most well-known soft skills, which would benefit from being better developed if you wish to improve the working atmosphere of your company:
- Communication (allowing everyone to know what they have to do to achieve the company’s objectives);
- Leadership (essential qualities that inspire and guide others);
- Empathy (the ability to understand how someone else feels or acts);
- Decision-making (done in an informed manner and after analyzing the consequences);
- The ability to give and receive feedback (one of the best ways to progress and improve collectively);
Who are soft skills for?
Behavioral skills are very often associated with executives and managers, but it would be wrong to think that these skills are exclusively reserved for them!
Why? Because any employee, regardless of their position and responsibilities, is required to use behavioral skills in order to exchange with their manager and colleagues, organize their priorities, manage conflicts, do a job interview…
Here are some concrete examples of using soft skills in business:
- To lead a transformational project (reorganization, implementing new tools, defining new objectives, etc.), the ability to show leadership and to develop communication are crucial.
- To resolve a conflict within a team, managers and employees have every interest in communicating and showing empathy to defuse the situation and find a solution together.
- To welcome neuroatypical employees, managers must know how to adapt to their communication style, and show empathy and flexibility, in order to ensure the employee’s well-being.
Soft skills are useful at any point during the day and in many situations. That is why companies integrate them in their employee skills development programs.
What are the 5 main benefits of soft skills training in business?
Soft skills are coming up more and more often, and it’s not a coincidence!
It’s because they are beneficial in business and many other areas.
Developing your employees’ soft skills contributes to strengthening their skills, which impacts their productivity. This is particularly true for employees who work in teams, in direct contact with customers, such as customer service and sales.
Helping your employees to be more attentive to customer needs, identify problems and solve them is a real value added for your company!
Make decision-making more efficient
Within a company, managers and employees must make many decisions on a daily basis (and be accountable for them). Some must sometimes be dealt with in a rush, which impacts the company’s activities and employees.
This is the type of situation where soft skills are very useful, as they allow us to make decisions in an informed way, having analyzed and anticipated their consequences.
Improve the work atmosphere
There is no team that doesn’t experience tension or friction, but not dealing with the issue is even worse than having it in the first place!
Adapting your communication, knowing how to dialogue, raising sensitive points rather than avoiding them, pays off and can greatly improve a team’s work environment.
Good communication within a company is particularly important for the work atmosphere (and not only!)
Through ‘lateral’ or ‘horizontal’ communication, employees can share information and collaborate in good conditions, without silos. This contributes to the creation of good cohesion within companies.
Promoting internal mobility
Acquiring non-technical skills, or soft skills, prepares the most motivated employees to take on more responsibilities and eventually move on to management positions.
Therefore, an employee who wishes to benefit from internal mobility will benefit from developing their soft skills, both in order to be part of the progression process and because they will need them in their new position.
It seems that soft skills are becoming more and more important as one moves up the chain of command.
Increase employee retention
This brings us to the main problems companies face today: talent retention.
Employees who are trained more fully, in different types of skills, with prospects for progression, will have more good reasons to stay within the same company. It’s as simple as that.
Essential behavioral skills to develop
There are so many soft skills… Of course, we cannot go into detail for each of them, but here are 3 that we would like to highlight.
Communication, a vital skill for any organization
If we had to only address one soft skill, it would be communication.
Can you imagine a company where nobody knows what they have to do to achieve the organization’s goals? Without communication, the company would be in serious trouble.
It is because managers have understood its importance that communication is present everywhere in a company: in procedures, emails, from the bottom up, from employees to management, etc. Everyone is constantly communicating.
Implementing good communication in business is not always easy, but it can be learnt!
Using leadership to rally employees to a common vision and goal
It is important that we insist on leadership in business, because it encompasses many other qualities such as empathy, communication, a sense of organization, decision-making, courage, charisma, intelligence and integrity.
It is therefore a key skill to have - and it is not reserved for managers, contrary to what some may think.
Leadership encourages the development of autonomy and promotes everyone’s professional development.
In other words, leadership can be defined as the ability to motivate others and inspire them, so that everyone feels more involved and therefore more effective.
Creativity, a source of innovation in business
When faced with complex situations or an uncertain future, creativity makes it possible to approach issues in a new way, by allowing employees to think outside of frameworks that are too rigid, strict or procedural.
It is a ‘safety valve’ that some people need.
Companies that want to develop intrapreneurship and foster innovation should be encouraging creativity, because all these elements are interlinked and together, they stimulate the growth of a company.
3 ways to develop your employees’ soft skills
Now that you are aware of the main benefits of soft skills, would you like to know how to implement them?
Let’s see what your options are.
Peer learning and mentoring
Peer learning and mentoring are part of what is called ‘social learning’. These can be exchanges with peers (peer learning) or with people who are more professionally advanced (mentoring).
The common point of these two methods is learning from others, exchanging resources and best practices. Peer learning and mentoring are sources of engagement and they both promote a sense of belonging.
While some exchanges can take place informally, you can also set up a mentoring program to develop your employees’ soft skills.
Let’s now look at some of the more formal learning methods. Online training is one of them. Concretely, through an online training platform (Learning Management System) like Workleap LMS, you can:
- create training courses and divide them into modules;
- create varied content (texts, videos, audio files, PDF documents, quizzes, etc.);
- set up clear summaries for each part of the course;
- unlock content according to a set schedule, in order to set a pace of progress, or, inversely, let employees progress at their own pace;
- ensure that employees have followed the training, evaluate them and monitor their progress.
Online training gives you a lot of freedom and control. After choosing a training platform, you can organize your content as you wish.
Our advice for getting your employees onboard? Make your training information concise and focused so that they can apply it concretely in their daily life.
You may just be getting started, but know that in the long run, an LMS like Workleap's can help you build a knowledge management system on the topic of soft skills, for your company and employees.
Interactive, in-person workshops
Nothing beats practice !
One cannot talk about soft skills without mentioning in-person workshops and live simulations. The advantage of this kind of format is that it promotes exchanges between participants and trainers, in particular through role-playing games:
- A work dispute within a team about conflict resolution;
- A scenario about meeting facilitation techniques that help improve communication;
- A situation (urgent or not) in which someone has to analyze different elements in order to make a decision.
The possibilities are endless, and the experience is particularly stimulating!
Everyone can share their vision of things, react or even change roles during the workshop (from manager to employee, or vice versa, for example).
In order for this kind of workshop to be beneficial, it must be concrete and allow each employee to participate and evoke real-life situations. The goal is for employees to be able to apply the newly-acquired skills in their everyday life.
How to use Workleap LMS to develop your employees’ soft skills?
Are you wondering what the easiest soft skills would be to teach with an LMS?
Let’s look again at the 3 examples mentioned above.
You could create a training course that explains the importance of corporate communication and details the different types of communication (top-down, bottom-up or horizontal).
In order to enrich the training, you could add testimonials from managers in video format to provide practical advice on improving team communication.
Another idea would be to detail the different existing communication tools (phone, video conference, chat, email, etc.) and explain which tool is more relevant for which context.
Using an LMS to assess leadership competence is a good place to start.
Since this is a key skill and quite a complex one, you can divide the training in several modules: positive influence, trust, qualities expected of a leader, etc.
The topics can be approached from different angles, including a more playful one, through quizzes, for ex.
How could you encourage employees to develop their own creativity?
What would be the possible benefits?
How could you foster creativity in team meetings?
Are there any methods that promote creativity?
An LMS could help you all of these questions. You can reserve some modules for managers, and others for employees. With a topic like this, you can let employees progress at their own pace, and maybe even top it all with a virtual classroom.
It’s your turn now !
Start a free trial of Workleap LMS and discover all the features you can use in your team’s soft skills training.
If you need help with your gameplan, ask for a demo and we will be happy to exchange ideas with you.