As technology continues dramatically to change the nature of work, employees must fine tune the social and emotional abilities machines cannot master. To encourage this behaviour, managers must adjust the ways they assess, train and reward their workforce on soft skills such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills, which are defined as non-technical skills that enable someone to interact effectively with others, are essential to companies and can impact culture, mindsets, leadership, attitudes and behaviours. Broadly, these skills fall into the following categories:
- Communication and negotiation skills
- Interpersonal skills and empathy
- Leadership and management skills
- Entrepreneurship and initiative-taking
- Adaptability and continuous learning skills
- Training skills
A key difference among today’s large scale skill shift and those in the past is the urgency for team members to exhibit these capabilities.
How can companies facilitate reskilling?
Developing required soft skills and ensuring employees, and in turn companies, are set up for success isn’t as simple as watching a training video. Instead, companies must change their employees’ processes and behaviours. Here are some actions to help you on that journey:
1. Assessment is an important first step. Determining the soft skill gap proves particularly challenging, since they typically lack systematic evaluation mechanisms. HR departments must be equipped with a framework that codifies soft skills and defines their respective evaluation criteria.
2. Effective reskilling requires blended learning journeys that mix traditional learning, including training and digital courses with non traditional methods, such as peer coaching.
3. People generally operate based on incentives – they do what is rewarded. To encourage people to not only begin their soft skill learning journey but to continue with it, rewards and incentives are critical.
4. Given the critical need for soft skills now and in the future, training current employees is not enough. It is also crucial to ensure that new people coming in the door are ready with the most critical skills on day one. Recruiting for soft skills can be challenging, but it generally involves structured interviews which get responses that include details about one’s past work and life experiences that contribute to who they are today, or situational judgment tests whereby the interviewer puts the candidate in a specific hypothetical situation and asks how he or she would deal with it.