This post was originally published by Allyson Dobberteen on lessonly.com.
I’m sure you’ve heard the mantra, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” That might hold up when it comes to athletic feats and technical tricks for our four-legged friends. But we firmly believe that any catchphrase that’s a little bit mean to pups deserves further scrutiny.
Oops, there we go getting distracted by dogs again. Anyway, let’s take a look at that “old dog new tricks” adage through the lens of soft skills training. Is it ever “too late” to learn soft skills? We think not.
And here’s why: Soft skills training pays off. A study from MIT Sloan found that soft skills training—even in a factory setting—improves productivity and delivers a 250% ROI in just eight months. And if you need another reminder of the importance of soft skills in the workplace, one study found that a whopping 75% of long-term job success depends on soft skills mastery. That’s pretty staggering stuff!
So what is soft skills training exactly?
When it comes down to it, soft skills training is the act of developing the non-technical skills that improve how you live and work. They include everything from how you interact with your sassiest coworker to how you crumble or come through in a stressful situation.
Soft skills development often looks different from organization-to-organization. Whether you’re coaching soft skills face-to-face or delivering soft skills training online, we’ve got you covered with a few tips and tricks for teaching an “old dog” new soft skills.
How to improve soft skills for adults
If you’ve made it through all of our puppy puns so far, it’s clear that you’re dedicated to developing soft skills.
Delivering soft skills training for employees is never as simple as grabbing a list of soft skills training topics off of the internet and building a bunch of training manuals. But the good news is that you’re already taking the first steps toward improvement—trying and learning. Let’s dive into a few more practical suggestions.
Find a starting place
Assessment is an important first step. Take a moment to self-assess soft skills in yourself or your organization. Better yet, use a tool like our very own Lessonly Skills to understand each rep’s skills through reflection, observation, and metrics all in one place.
Look for a buddy
Soft skills are inherently interpersonal. Find someone who exemplifies the soft skills you’d like to improve or seek out those with a similar devotion to soft skills development. If you’re hoping to improve these skills across your organization, highlight those soft skills superstars early and often. If it’s your own soft skills you’re looking to strengthen, mimic the behaviors you admire and value most in others.
To see it, be it
On the other hand, you can only control your own actions and you can influence people by just being, well, you. It’s a superpower we all have. If we want to see more of something—empathy, perseverance, curiosity, calmness—the best thing to do is exhibit it.
There’s a Steven Pinker quote that goes a little something like, “If you’re committed to progress, you can’t very well claim to have it all figured out.” It’s a great reminder that vulnerable people can be ideal agents of progress, and that’s even more true when applied to soft skills training. Open yourself up to imperfection, to missteps, and to failure. You just might find yourself connecting better, growing stronger, and moving forward faster in the process.
Find the fun
Training doesn’t have to be a snoozefest, and soft skills training is especially ripe for fun. Bring brightness into the room, or the Zoom if you’re facilitating online soft skills training for employees, and your message might motivate others more than usual. Our team likes to use puns, unlikely metaphors, and silly themes to lighten the mood. If you’re ready to level-up your soft skills training, check out Lessonly by Seismic. We help frontline teams practice essential soft skills and receive ongoing skills coaching for continued improvement.