There seems little doubt that with a shift to automation and increased use of technology in the workplace, the skills and capabilities required from employees will also shift.
“Workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others. The skills and capabilities required will also shift, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.”
McKinsey & Company
92% of executives say that soft skills are equally important or more important than technical skills
The Wall Street Journal
There is increased recognition within every workplace that soft skills – leadership, communication, and collaboration – are where the war for talent will be fought in the coming years. Perhaps it’s no surprise to hear that senior leaders, people managers, and talent managers all agree that the most important area for L&D to focus on in 2018 is ‘training for soft skills’.
L&D are well-versed in the development of soft skills. They understand what makes for engaging and powerful learning experiences and the value of high-level facilitation; crucial in the development of higher level soft skills.
According to a study by the Association for Talent Development, training doesn’t really work – only 13% of training reaches a level where participants apply what they learned, and a mere 3% reaches a level where the organisation feels an impact. The harsh truth is that this is simply not good enough and organisations are no longer prepared to accept records of attendance and positive delegate feedback as evidence of effective training. They are (quite rightly) demanding real impact in the workplace with sustained results.
Organisations are looking to L&D to step up their game and find effective ways to not only develop higher level soft skills, but also embed them in daily routines and behaviours in the workplace.
Is it really an L&D issue?
On face value it would seem reasonable for the organisation to lay these shortcomings at the feet of L&D, but is this really fair? Perhaps not, as there is a growing body of evidence that would suggest the biggest challenges for the effective application of learning may lie elsewhere. Read more about this in our article – The issues with L&D
So, what can L&D do?
This is all insightful stuff, but what can L&D realistically do to ensure that their training programmes effectively overcome these challenges to deliver the lasting shift in soft skills that will underpin organisational success into the future?
- Start with the end in mind – take the time to reach a clear understanding of what you want the training to deliver and how you will know if it has been successful.
- Develop a communication strategy – map out your stakeholders (learners, senior managers, line managers, etc.) and develop a communication plan for each category.
- Engage your audience – talk to your learners honestly to help them understand the context for the training and why it is critical to the business and them.
- Provide engaging and powerful learning experiences – don’t forget that at the heart of the learning will be the training intervention that challenges mindsets, develops skills and builds confidence.
- Provide transfer tasks and workplace challenges – probably the most critical moment for any training is when learners return to the workplace and are faced with the first potential opportunity to apply their learning.
- Involve managers – remember the biggest challenge for L&D is getting employees to take time for learning.
- Evaluate impact – if I leave you with one thought I hope it will be that evaluation is your superpower.
You can read more about this in our expanded article – 7 simple rules for ensuring your training delivers lasting impact in the workplace. (There is only 7 rules in the content supplied)
Create The Space is a training consultancy, specialising in learning and performance. We work with large organisations to improve engagement, develop new skills, and change behaviour. We are experts in the transfer and application of learning in the workplace.
If you recognise the issues mentioned above and would like to discuss how Create the Space can help your L&D be more successful, please call us on 0121 232 4644.