As organizations have had to adapt to changing workplace trends, it’s becoming a necessity for organizations to prioritize professional development to keep their business moving forward. Investing in your employees through training will help engage your workforce and empower them to seek further development opportunities. Employee training needs to go beyond the standard safety and compliance of days past.
A recommended practice that organizations are continuing to adopt is training on soft skills – or as I like to call them, human skills. There’s nothing soft about them as these are the skills that drive our ability to relate to one another through empathy, compassion and authenticity.
Effective communication, stress management and emotional intelligence (EQ) more and more are becoming business-critical topics that can help any individual find success at work. Soft skills assessments are a great way for employees to reflect on how they’re benefitting their team and ways in which they can improve. Here are three methods for conducting a soft skills assessments that L&D leaders can share with their organization’s leadership group and managers:
1. Do a 360-degree performance review.
This kind of soft skills assessment uses a multi-faceted approach that allows employees to see how they’re being interpreted across the organization from the management to peer level. They’re also a great indicator of how you can better collaborate with the members of your organization to continue moving toward the main mission of the business. Learn how to use 360-degree feedback to personalize and improve training.
EQ can be defined as the ability to perceive, handle, and manage emotions effectively. The four characteristics that make up EQ – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management – are what leaders and managers should strive for so that they can better lead their teams.
Training on EQ is critical, as it has a huge impact on a manager or leader’s ability to perform in the workplace. Managers can conduct EQ assessments with their employees by asking guiding questions to gain a better understanding of how they’re collaborating with their co-workers and use a benchmark to monitor their progress. Providing training opportunities for employees to take will ensure they can continue growing in this area.
2. Conduct a self-assessment periodically.
As a L&D leader, you aren’t automatically proficient in all the soft skills out there. That’s why it’s important to measure yourself periodically on how you believe you’re really doing – just like you would with any training initiative.
Look at the skills you already possess and the ones you would like to develop. Be honest when completing an assessment of your skills – it’s easy to say you’re a 10 out of 10 on everything. It’s important for growth to look at both your strengths and weaknesses, and then dive into why you believe these things.
Let’s look at communication skills as an example.
First, look at how well you perform this skill. Do you reply to emails or chats in a timely fashion? Do you make your points clearly and succinctly? Do you ask clarifying questions if you’re unsure of something?
If the answers to those questions vary, then you have your strengths and weaknesses, and what you can work on.
There’s no set time frame on how often to complete a self-assessment, but consider a quarterly evaluation, so you can put things into practice for a while before shifting focus to another area.
3. Practice, practice, practice.
We all know the saying, “practice makes perfect.” While perfection is subjective, there is a point to practicing; that’s how you can try using your new skills or developing in areas where you’d like to improve.
Consider asking a fellow leader or mentor to do role-playing or coaching sessions with you, and have them provide constructive feedback. This way, you get to use your skills in applicable situations and hear honest feedback about how it went. The more you practice, the easier it gets. We all couldn’t ride a bike the first time we tried or float when we were first in swim lessons, so go easy on yourself … even if it’s hard at first.
Upskilling and reskilling are ways you can keep learning new skills and better your existing ones. Finding out your strengths and addressing your weaknesses can help you be a more effective leader, so keep working on your soft, I mean human, skills.