It’s time to think about soft skills training in a new way. We know this type of training traditionally takes place face-to-face during the course of a day or two. It can include role-play or personalized coaching, and more advanced programs offer individualized video recording. It’s a big event. While I believe there’s no replacement for that type of collaboration, comradery, and personalized coaching, many organizations no longer allow their professionals to be away from work for extended amounts of time. The result? Soft skills training is falling by the wayside, and many of you are not doing it at all.
It’s time to rethink your soft skills training strategy. To help you prepare for what lies ahead, consider the following steps.
Collaborate With ITCollaboration with IT is a critical component of your training initiatives. In the past, training and development departments weren’t required to work with IT to get training initiatives off the ground. Because of this, those relationships may not exist. This can create a disconnect that can be difficult to overcome. I strongly recommend that you identify someone on your team who has IT experience or baseline IT knowledge who can serve as the liaison with the IT department. This is a critical first step in implementing the AI-driven software and gamification options available to you. Getting IT involvement and buy-in as it relates to the adoption of these new available technologies ensures you can grow your professionals in a scalable, measurable, and budget-friendly way.
Blended LearningWhile a blended-learning approach to training is nothing new, it can be challenging to apply to soft skills training. Take a fresh look at your content and consider how you can spread out the learning over several weeks or months. Ultimately, there’s no way around it. You must redesign your curriculum and adapt it using available technologies. For example, week one may feature a 60-minute educational webcast with an assignment on AI-driven software or an e-learning platform designed for practice. Week two could include a virtual collaboration session with several team members and a manager for role-play scenarios. Week three may be a face-to-face team meeting to practice the new skills and have discussion. Thirty days from then, you repeat the process with new role-plays and new circumstances.
Identify Potential PartnersWhen you’re first getting started, you don’t know what you don’t know. This means you likely can’t do it all by yourself. You’ll have to identify and interview outside vendors who you can lean on to answer your questions. These partners can provide you with various solutions to help you reach your goals. This may include training tools that you can implement via mobile devices, an existing e-learning platform, live online, or face-to-face.
Customization Is KeyWhen soft skills training becomes somewhat automated, the customization that naturally occurs in a classroom can be lost. This may decrease the effectiveness of the training because the end users may feel that it doesn’t apply to them. You must be willing to create different activities and assignments to meet the specific needs of different levels of professionals within your organization.
Involve ManagersOnce all your systems are in place and the training is off the ground, your work still isn’t done. To keep individuals engaged, accountable, and implementing the news skills they’ve learned, consider enlisting the help of their managers. Assign tasks or meetings with the trainees to ensure your great training content isn’t forgotten in among daily tasks.
Adopting and implementing these new technologies provides you the opportunity to successfully train more people within the flow of work for less money than ever before.
To learn more, check out my session, Transforming Soft Skills Training With AI, Video, Gamification, and More, at the ATD 2020 International Conference & EXPO.