Soft skills, also called people skills or personal skills, are a set of essential competencies that can improve a person’s ability to work with others and even influence how they perform their job. For organizations, teaching soft skills to employees can mean an improved working environment and better business results. But what exactly are soft skills and how do you develop soft skills in the workplace? In this soft skills training guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know from the basic definition of soft skills and hard skills to the benefits of soft skills training and soft skills training examples to help you better develop your team.
What is soft skills training?
Simply put, soft skills are a combination of abilities related to people and social situations rather than a person’s technical abilities. Some common examples of soft skills are relationship-building, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and leadership. Training your employees on soft skills like these can add immense value to your organization. We’ll cover the importance of soft skills training in more detail later.
Soft skills vs. hard skills
Unlike soft skills, hard skills focus on a person’s technical abilities. Hard skills are usually trained and learned over time with consistent practice. They also tend to be specific to job functions. For example, coding, graphic design, and data analysis are all types of hard skills. Hard skills are also much easier to measure, like with a test or assignment, which also makes it easier to certify someone’s competency in them. In contrast, measuring soft skills is much more challenging since they have to do with unique personality traits and character.
Top 8 soft skills training for employees
With many different types of soft skills training programs, we’ve narrowed our picks down to the essentials. Here are some of the best soft skills you should be training your employees on:
Good communication is beneficial for any role so it’s no wonder it’s at the top of our list as one of the best soft skills to develop. Communication skills are not just about speaking well and conveying your message clearly, but also about practicing active listening – listening intently to someone so you can respond meaningfully. This is key to healthy workplace relationships, whether with colleagues, potential clients, or existing customers.
Knowing how to collaborate with others may seem like a basic skill, but there’s a reason you’ve probably been taught this soft skill since your early school days. Simply put, we constantly find ourselves having to interact with others and develop trustworthy relationships. By training your employees in this soft skill, you set them up to work toward team and company goals in unison.
With never-ending backlogs and limited hours in a workday, time management skills are relevant to any job. Training this soft skill will set your employees up for better productivity and work-life balance. As a result, they’ll also have more room and focus to achieve their business and personal development goals.
You don’t have to be in a managerial position to benefit from leadership skills. Any role that requires you to delegate tasks, provide guidance to teammates or customers, or demonstrate ownership of your tasks could help you develop into a leader. At the same time, training employees in this soft skill empowers them to receive feedback that can sometimes be tough to hear but is necessary for performance improvement.
Knowing how to negotiate well is an important soft skill for roles that focus on reaching agreements and closing deals. Sales positions are a common example, where Account Executives may need to negotiate valuable contracts with prospective customers in order to reach a mutually beneficial deal.
Delivering a successful presentation is about more than just having visually pleasing slides. It’s important to know how to articulate your key points in a way that keeps your audience engaged throughout the presentation, all while making sure they develop clear takeaways.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a key soft skill to learn how to manage your emotions as well as those of other people, which can play a major role in workplace interactions, especially in avoiding misunderstandings. The better you understand yourself and those around you, the better you’ll be able to manage your relationships.
Thinking critically means being willing to analyze facts to form a sound judgment. Often, this also means second-guessing your opinions (and the opinions of others). This is particularly useful for making unbiased, and – therefore – professional decisions.