Soft skills tend to be neglected, often because they are hard to measure, and some people think they can’t be trained - you either have them or you don’t. Certain employees will naturally be better with soft skills than others, but there is no reason people can’t work on soft skills like any other skill. Soft skills are valuable, transferable skills that can play a large role in the success and productivity of employees.
This article will discuss which soft skills are best taught through online training, and techniques for how to accomplish this.
What are soft skills?
“Unlike hard skills, which can be proven and measured, soft skills are intangible and difficult to quantify. Some examples of soft skills include analytical thinking, verbal and written communication, and leadership.”
Which important soft skills can be taught or enhanced through online training? See the soft skills examples list below.
Teamwork is the one soft skill nobody can do without these days. Even freelancers who work at home and seldom see another person in the flesh need to develop their teamwork skills. Teamwork means cooperation, collaboration and taking the initiative when necessary.
2. Effective communication
Effective communication is perhaps the easiest of the soft skills to teach online, especially as people can benefit simply from listening to or watching good communicators and seeing how they do it. Bear in mind that communication does not just cover speaking but also listening as well - and knowing when each is important.
Problem-solving is not just about being analytical. Employees need to learn to approach problems calmly, to know when to get help (back to teamwork again), when to barrel through and when to back off and take a break or try a different approach.
4. Time management
Time management can benefit from both online training and the use of productivity tools to encourage focus and prioritize tasks. Although this is a transferable skill, it is more concrete than most, as people need to learn how to put together a proper to-do list and organize their calendar.
5. Conflict resolution
This skill can be taught online using scenarios, bite-sized videos and role-playing games.
So, how do you cultivate these and other skills through online learning? Follow these techniques:
1. Create short videos. No one likes long, in-person seminars, but we can get through them, however, long online seminars are much harder to sit through. Because of this, most soft skills training modules use only short videos. The concepts are broken up into small sections, and the content is cut down as much as possible.
2. Use interactive scenarios - have people role-play with other employees or use AI-based online scenarios to show characters and their interactions. These scenarios are a vital part of a good online training course (and are also used face-to-face). Branching scenarios can be particularly effective as they show the direct outcome of various decisions.
3. Define measurable goals. Although soft skills are hard to measure, it’s possible to set goals that reflect them indirectly. These might include making more sales or deals or getting feedback from the rest of their team that demonstrates improvement. In time management, it is even easier - you can keep track of how much employees are getting done in a given time frame.
4. Focus on one skill at a time. It’s easy to give in to the temptation to try and improve multiple things at once. Grouping skills together are much less effective than focusing on teamwork for a while, then communication, and keeping the sessions short. Although there’s obviously some overlap, it’s important to keep things brief and focused.
5. Find motivation in the real world. This does mean using real-world examples, but it also means helping employees understand how these skills can benefit them - being better at conflict resolution might be great in the office, and even better at home when their children are fighting again.
6. Do group projects. These facilitate both teamwork and communication - and can either be directly related to a work goal or just for fun (just like team-building exercises in the real world). These projects can also help develop better relationships with specific individuals.
7. Turn the tables. Have each employee host their own webinar - this develops leadership and helps get over the fear of public speaking (which can be just as real when dealing with people over the internet as face to face). Having to pass a topic on to others can also be a great motivation to learn it in more depth. This can also spread out the dry research across the group.
8. Use mobile learning. These days, we do almost everything on our phones - and by using online training through a phone employees can go anywhere to learn and also apply things directly to the real world in front of them. For example, they can take an online video to a conference and compare it to how people are doing things there.
Regardless, whether you are the employer or a professional trying to improve your skills, online training can be an important way to develop soft skills, often for a lower cost than, say, going to a conference. Employees can even get soft skills certification courses online that help demonstrate improvement and prove to employers and partners that they have what it takes - and this kind of training can also help attract talent.
If you are an employer looking to improve the soft skills within your organization, then you should check out Knowledge Anywhere. We offer an intuitive learning management system as well as custom content development services that can help your team create a curriculum customized to your needs and those of your employees.
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