4 Steps To Teach Soft Skills Using Informal Learning
What makes someone an exceptional employee? Is it competency in the technical aspects of his or her position? Certainly. Sufficient education? Of course. Soft skills? Absolutely! If every employed person were strong in soft skills, this world would be a much better place. So would your business. Use formal and informal learning techniques to make this happen.
Not to be confused with hard/technical skills, soft skills are character traits. The right character traits give people a professional edge. Also, a workforce rich in soft skills makes for a thriving company. If your organization is weak and underproductive, perhaps your employees are deficient in practical, soft skills.
Soft skills such as writing, interpersonal communication, and time management are often acquired through informal/social learning. (Other soft skills include reading comprehension, professionalism, ability to organize, and active listening.) These skills can be both taught and “caught” via a social Learning Management System (LMS).
Maximize Soft Skills With Formal And Informal Learning
Like a well-cut diamond, eLearning has many facets. One facet is informal/social learning, and another is formal learning. Both types of learning promote the acquisition of soft skills.
When people learn a soft skill (say, verbal communication) socially, they absorb it without the help of curriculum or formal teachers. They obtain it from their peers whom they are observing and whose behaviors they are adopting. According to Sophie Chaffe, “over 70% of workers learn more from their colleagues than they do from formal training courses in classrooms or online”. Conversely, when a soft skill is attained formally, it comes through a structured training curriculum.
Did you know that a Learning Management System facilitates both social learning and formal learning? Some people are surprised to discover that eLearning systems are this versatile and want to know how these platforms foster informal learning in particular. Learning Management Systems generate informal learning through social learning tools like real time chat, blogs, calendaring, forums, polls, Shoutbox, and video conferencing. Pair these tools with the formal, structured training tools built into the average cloud-based Learning Management System, and you have a power-punch combination of learning styles that instills soft skills effectively.
Grow Soft Skills In 4 Steps With A Learning Management System
A Learning Management System makes building soft skills simple, almost effortless. You can develop and strengthen your employees’ soft skills in just 4 easy steps with an eLearning system:
- Launch a Learning Management System.
What training method have you been exposing your workforce to? If your answer is “An in-person training model”, seriously consider launching a social Learning Management System. A Learning Management System will enable you to get your company’s training out of the physical classroom and onto the Cloud (online). This step is critical and can feel overwhelming. The good news is launching a Learning Management System isn’t nearly as intimidating as it sounds.
- Offer soft skills eLearning courses.
Once you have implemented a Learning Management System and transitioned from in-person training to an online or blended learning model, simply integrate soft skills training into your company’s employee-training program. Offer eLearning courses on leadership, interviewing, mentoring, and customer service. The article Effective Integration of Technology and Instructor-Led Training to Promote Soft Skills Mastery suggests that hands-on training is critical to the adoption of soft skills. It states, “Web-based simulations… (portray) scenarios or ‘stories’ in which students act out realistic workplace situations and interactions. They are an engaging way to give personal meaning to the content, increasing students’ interest and motivation”. Only in eLearning are these knowledge retention-promoting simulations possible.
- Train users in the proper usage of social learning tools.
The social learning tools mentioned earlier are not difficult to utilize. However, all learners will not automatically know how to use them. Devote a training session or two to the subject of how to operate your Learning Management System’s social learning tools. This will set your employees up to learn soft skills informally.
- Provide ongoing support for your employees’ newly learned skills.
Once you have implemented a Learning Management System and used it to host eLearning courses that teach soft skills, provide ongoing employee support. Connie Malamed encourages employers to do this by continuing to train workers once an eLearning course has been completed. She says “Newly learned skills should be supported and enhanced by management and team members. Part of a soft skills training plan should include opportunities for additional practice, ongoing discussion, feedback and coaching to support the transfer of newly (learned) skills in the workplace environment”.
Hard skills alone won’t make a good employee. But, the combination of technical skills and soft skills will. Equip your employees with the character traits required for success in work and life by launching a Learning Management System, then integrating soft skills training into workplace culture.