Soft Skills are a set of abilities that indicate how well a person deals with others around him as well as how best he is able to identify and deal with problems. But soft skills are tough to define, measure, and organize since they are not ‘hard’ and overlap with each other.
Thus, soft skills are not tangible like hard skills such as coding or working with Excel. But most studies have proved that the development of soft skills training is as crucial as technical skills.
For instance, an MIT Sloan study reported that a 12-month, controlled trial of soft skills training in 5 factories generated a 250% ROI (Return on Investment) in simply 8 months. The training in soft skills enhanced productivity, made complicated work more efficient, and increased employee attendance.
A study by Stanford Research found that 75% of success in the long term in a specific job role depends on the mastery of soft skills, and hard or technical skills accounted for only 25% of job success.
What are soft skills?
These skills are based mostly on personality in contrast to vocational experience, qualifications, or technical skills. These include social skills, people skills, transferable skills, and interpersonal skills.
Hard skills, on the other hand, are job-specific technical skills. They emerge from work experience, employee training, and certification programs. They can be learned, measured, and tested through quizzes, practical assignments, and exams.
Hard skills are relevant to the core business of an organization, like construction, design, business analysis, machine operation, networking skills, computer skills, and writing skills. As for soft skills, they deal mostly with inter-personal relationships and issues like problem-solving, listening, communication, and conflict resolution.
Soft skills are experience-based, people-related, attitudinal, behavioural, non-domain specific, general, trans-situational, non-technical, and intangible. On the other hand, hard skills are rule-based, scientific/ technological, mechanical/ industrial, related to techniques and tools, specialized, methodical & procedural, replicable, predictable, and tangible.
Training in Soft Skills
Soft skills training refers to training that focuses on developing skills like problem-solving, teamwork and communication. Other soft skills include positive attitudes and emotional intelligence.
While hard skill training like data analysis or mathematical ability can be delivered easily, relatively, soft skills training is more challenging as it comprises of teaching new behaviours and modes of thinking.
The impact of training in soft skills can also be tough to measure as it is not quantitative. The creation of an effective program of soft skill training and selection of e-learning platforms can determine the outcomes of failure or success.
Benefits of training in soft skills
Soft skills are highly desirable for businesses and are critical components of a motivated, empathetic, and resilient workforce. The major benefits of training in soft skills include:
Improved rapport and teamwork
Developing vital skills such as teamwork and communication can help build more effective and stronger workplace relationships and improve cooperation, resulting in high levels of team productivity.
Leadership with empathy
All levels of the organization benefit from training in soft skills, and this includes leadership. Excellent interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence possessed by leaders help them to get the best out of their employees by knowing their requirements and creating valuable relationships.
Better retention and happier employees
When the business invests in the training of soft skills of employees, it proves that it cares about their development and offers useful skills which can make them feel satisfied and more effective in their workplace. It also leads to a reduction in employee turnover.
Superior customer service
Training in soft skills hones the ability of employees to communicate effectively and combat problems with more confidence. It can also help them to develop their empathy and listening skills that are critical while handling clients and customers, especially in the face of complicated issues.
Better problem solving
Soft skills can help employees to develop better abilities to solve problems. It can help them to approach problems with fresh perspectives, communicate issues more efficiently and deliver alternate solutions.
What are the ideal soft skills?
Whether it is for interaction with customers & clients or daily communication with the team, excellent skills of communication are vital for effective and efficient work.
This skill is critical for the functioning of teams, particularly in the world of business. Training is provided to team members to better understand each other and use their strengths and weaknesses for successful outcomes.
Management of time
Good management of time is critical for cost savings and efficient operations. Spending excessive time on one task and neglecting others can result in disgruntled clients and inefficiencies. Employees need to master the soft skill of managing time and juggling various tasks.
It is a soft skill that enables a person to guide others while accomplishing the mission and goals of the organization. Key qualities include agility, empathy, project management, humility, selflessness, generosity, cultural intelligence, etc.
This skill blends the use of creative and analytical thinking for finding solutions to problems. Key qualities include logical reasoning, lateral thinking, persistence, initiative, persuasion, observation, decision making, brainstorming, and negotiation.
This skill is the ability for objective analysis of information, judging various perspectives, and reaching logical conclusions. Important qualities include collaboration, observation, communication, creative thinking, brainstorming, logical reasoning, and problem-solving.
Best modes of training
The pertinent problem is that many consider the above qualities to be innate to one’s personality, but the fact is that soft skills can be developed and trained. Use the following methods:
In case one finds an employee to be lacking a specific skill like leadership, one can arrange a mentor or coach for specific and targeted training.
Live interactive workshops
In case one wishes to train a full group of personnel in a specific set of skills, one can organize live workshops. The best workshops feature action-oriented and concrete objectives and strive to solve real-life problems.
Social or peer learning
Another simple way to inculcate soft skills is by learning with other persons. As per research, it has been proven that there is a major link between informal learning and fun-filled experiences in the workplace. Exploit this fact by creating small-scale projects which need cooperation between colleagues.
As regards the net-connected world, it makes sense to use online learning. Personnel can enhance their soft skills while training from any place, on any device.
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In sum, these are all the facets of Soft skills training. No one can deny the importance of such training for the success of a business and a happy and productive workforce.