Many companies prioritize the development of hard skills. The thing about hard skills is that they’re fairly straightforward. There is typically a practical method to acquire them and the benefits of gaining hard skills are often clear. On the opposite side of the spectrum, soft skills are more difficult to define and teach. Implementing new soft skills across a team is anything but straightforward and can demand changing mindsets or behaviors, which is no easy feat.

Developing soft skills like strong communication and emotional intelligence (EQ) have always been essential, but they are even more crucial in today’s hybrid work environment, where there is such a wide range of where and how employees are working.

A recent university training focused on leading strategic growth as to what it truly takes to teach soft skills. It’s not as simple as one would think and needs to be done with a thoughtful strategy and process.

Here are three essential steps for teaching and implementing soft skills in your organization:

Step 1: Identify and Define Soft Skills Needed for the Future

Before putting together soft skills training, consider your company’s unique mission and set of principles. Values vary by company and region, so it is important to review your company values and decide which soft skills to prioritize.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What company values would you like to prioritize?
  • Which soft skills best reflect these values both internally and externally?
  • Which soft skills do employees currently have and how are they contributing to company culture?
  • Which additional soft skills will benefit your company in the future?

Once you have answered these questions, create a list of the soft skills you would like to implement. It may be beneficial to share the list with company leadership to allow for feedback.

Step 2: Clearly Communicate Defined Soft Skills to Your Employees

Once target soft skills have been defined, it’s important to create dynamic trainings where you clearly communicate these desired skills and provide actionable advice to nurture them.

Say your company’s top priority is innovation. To drive a more innovative mindset, you know it’s important to encourage an ethos of idea sharing and experimentation. Now that’s not necessarily something you can just switch on automatically — it’s a mindset shift that’s truly going to take time and requires significant soft skills training. The first training you might consider is a workshop on how to set up and implement a brainstorm on how to incorporate design thinking concepts. Set up the workshop with the context of why this training curriculum is being offered and how it connects to the larger business strategy and the organization’s top priorities.

Once you have communicated target soft skills with employees through dynamic trainings and multiple communications, creating space for questions and follow up will be equally important. An effective way to follow up with employees is by creating a few clear action items that can be incorporated into an employee’s work routine.

Step 3: Incorporate Soft Skills Into Daily Routines

It is vital for leadership to demonstrate the soft skills they would like to develop in their employees. To do this, leaders should be the first to be trained on soft skills, so they are able to incorporate these skills into their daily routine and to effectively guide their teams through training.

Following the university training I mentioned before, the program instructors outlined a few activities participants could work on to implement the newly learned soft skills. They proceeded to follow up every couple of weeks to make sure learnings from the course were being put into action. These emails forced participants to take the time out of their busy schedule to implement soft skills, which was extremely helpful to their personal growth.

Following trainings, check in with employees to see how their progress is going. Recognize that you cannot force employees to change behavior instantaneously. However, you can equip them and empower them with the tools necessary to develop new skills.

By choosing soft skills that align with company values, communicating them clearly to employees, and setting up the proper framework to train and reinforce trainings, embedding new soft skills into your company culture can be achievable and transformational for your company.