Last week, we examined the importance of having employees with well developed soft skills, and laid out the first two steps for developing an employee soft skills training program. First, you should perform a training needs assessment to identify which soft skills your training program should focus on. After that, it's critical to clearly define the performance goals you’re hoping to impact with this training program.
Following these first two steps, here are the final three steps to set up your soft skills training program:
Step 3: Choose a Method of Delivery
There are many options you’ll want to consider as you decide how to implement and deliver your soft skills training program. The format that works best for your organization will be influenced by your work environment, and as well well as the availability of your employees. Delivery formats you may explore include:
- Online Training - Online coursework can be convenient and are easy to track and score. These allow employees to go through the program at their own pace, and complete the training when it fits their work schedule. While this type of training may lack an interpersonal element between your employees - this can sill be achieved through online training that supports discussion boards or peer response activities.
- Classroom Training - Classroom and group sessions have the obvious advantage of incorporating social incentives and encourage team members to find commonalities as they learn together. While this delivery method requires a dedicated learning space and takes time out of your employees’ work schedule - it can also double as a team building exercise, and allow your employees to practice these skills directly with their peers.
Other options for delivery may be printed material that can be read or completed independently, or blended training that combines both online and classroom elements.
You may want to survey your employees to discover the ways your staff learn best, in which case you may use a variety of implementation methods to suit their optimal learning styles.
Step 4: Select a Training Provider
The way you choose to implement your training will determine what types of materials you need and, in turn, what to look for in a soft skills training provider. When evaluating training providers, it’s important to choose one who offers a package that meets your delivery needs and is compatible with the skills you have chosen from your skills assessment. A training provider may offer suggestions for a revision of your process, in which case you can decide to take their recommendation or to stick with the system you have worked out on your own.
You should choose a training provider who teaches the soft skill(s) that you have identified as lacking in your workforce. Check with potential training providers for their availability to teach individual skills. If they only teach skills in sets, decide whether or not you need everything their training package offers. Understand what delivery models they offer, and make sure that it is compatible with your needs.
Additionally, look into what kinds of academic and administrative support they offer. Are they just providing with you with a curriculum? Or do they offer additional resources to support your employees, such as study planning, faculty support, or tracking & reporting?
Step 5: Establish Plan to Track Success Metrics
Now that you’ve established a delivery model, and identified your training provider, you need to make sure that you are setup to successfully track the outcomes from this training program. Go back to the performance goals you defined in step 2, and set out a realistic and specific timeline for when you would like to reach the goals you defined. From there, map out what metrics you will track and when you will track them.
For instance, if you wanted to improve communication skills and your chosen performance goal was a higher NPS score, identify when you will measure that. You could conduct a client satisfaction survey to measure NPS right before you implement the training, a month after your first cohort finishes the training, and six months after they completed the training. Again, the timing of this measurement will be based on the desired timeline in which you would like to see results.
Additionally, remember to get feedback from your employees about the training. If you can keep interest high and make them feel that their opinions are important (because they are) they will answer questions more honestly and will derive greater benefits from the learning material.
Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you should be ready to implement your training program. Keep in mind that this outline is intended to be flexible. You should be ready to make changes as the need arises and remember that no part of this process has to be set in stone. As you follow the steps, do away with what doesn’t work and optimize your process.
To learn more how Penn Foster's Career Readiness Bootcamp can support soft skills training at your organization, click here.
Resources: Photo Credit.