Soft skills training has become more important in today’s globalised, hybrid and remote workplaces. But are your training initiatives really having a positive business impact? Particularly when it comes to achieving intended learning outcomes and improving performance. To ensure your next training truly delivers business results, follow these three valuable tips.
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You do a lot of groundwork for a new soft skills training initiative. Conduct a thorough training needs analysis. Check. Engage key stakeholders in the planning. Check. Ensure training content aligns with business priorities. Check. Perform ongoing evaluation and measurement. Check.
Yet months later, employees’ skills levels are about the same. And they forgot much of the learning content. Your organisation is not alone.
Research shows that people only retain 2%-3% of information after a month if they haven’t practised or used it. Plus, the results from soft skills training take time to show. And so does behavioural change.
But there are ways to maximise the transfer of desired learning outcomes in the workplace. One key factor that impacts the transfer of learning into job performance is motivation. The motivation to learn (before and during) and the motivation to apply that learning (during and after).
But how do you inspire employees and their managers while they’re busy with everyday tasks? Particularly since ongoing soft skills development is often deprioritised. In fact, many L&D professionals say that one of the biggest obstacles to workplace learning is lack of support from their organisation.
So, how can you get more people on board to ensure soft skills training delivers intended learning outcomes and business results?
Read on to discover our top three tips.
1. Agree on post-training support and activities early on
Start thinking about post-training early on. One crucial factor influencing motivation to transfer learning is having ongoing workplace support and accountability for post-training activities.
Ask these key questions
During your pre-training interviews, surveys or meetings for needs analysis with stakeholders, plan to ask the following questions. How will the organisation support employees to practise and demonstrate soft skills improvement after training? Who will be responsible for post-training support and different activities? And how exactly will learning outcomes be measured?
Get commitment for post-training activities
Here are some essential post-training areas to get buy-in and agreement on:
- Coaching and feedback from managers or mentors.
- Regular reviews or assessments of learning.
- Resources for learning in the flow of work: scheduled time, tools, technology.
- Aligning deliverables/KPIs to learning objectives.
- Regular monitoring and reviewing of action plans.
And once you have commitment for post-training initiatives, let employees know. If they are aware of opportunities to practise, they will seek them out after training. It will help sustain their motivation to apply what they learn. And increase the likelihood of behavioural change.
When reporting to stakeholders during and immediately after training, remind them of the desired learning outcomes, post-training activities and key responsibilities. Track progress and hold people accountable for critical tasks. Once stakeholders understand their role in the training’s success and how that leads to improved business impact, it will be easier to get their commitment in the future.
2. Evaluate your learning content design to ensure it is targeted and engaging
Now that you’ve secured post-training support, it’s time for a critical assessment. How strategic is your learning content design?
Why effective learning content design matters
When done well, it can greatly impact employee motivation and their ability to transfer soft skills developed in the workplace. Particularly when training is targeted to on-the-job tasks. And to make an even stronger impact, evaluate how well the learning content design encourages active learning.
Ways to ensure content design increases learning transfer
Here are some essential elements of workplace learning that help enable learning transfer:
- Competencies and activities that can be directly applied and are relevant to the organisation/employee objectives and needs.
- Engaging trainers or platforms (e.g., gamification) that motivate employees to learn and apply learning.
- Formative assessment for monitoring progress.
- Individualised feedback.
- Continuous action planning and goal setting throughout.
Prioritise these areas for feedback and evaluation before, during and after training. Doing so will help you identify, improve or develop future soft skills training initiatives. Ones that are more effective at enabling learning transfer, increasing the likelihood of achieving desired learning outcomes.
3. Train and evaluate learners’ skills in self-directed learning
Before you roll out the training, there’s one more thing to evaluate. Do your employees have the necessary skills to be active, autonomous learners?
Self-directed learning requires active learners
Learning in the flow of work, microlearning and personalised learning solutions are on the rise. They’re providing new opportunities for self-directed learning, which also increases retention of information.
So, employees need to take more responsibility and be proactive learners throughout their training. Ensure they have the necessary skills to take advantage of these new ways of learning. If not, provide training that fills this gap in self-directed learning skills.
Ways to enable learner independence
Research shows that effective learning content design encourages self-efficacy (the belief in one’s ability to successfully complete tasks). Ensure your learning content design focuses on self-efficacy by allowing opportunities for the learner to control what and how they learn. And even how they will continue to learn post-training.
The bottom line? Make sure your learning content considers active, autonomous learning along with training in how to continue learning post-training.
Even further, motivation to transfer learning increases when learners set their own skills development goals. So, give employees this opportunity. The process encourages them to continue to practise and transfer soft skills developed in the workplace.
Creating a culture of learning
You can maximise learning outcomes for any training initiative by following these tips. Once key stakeholders start seeing performance improvements and business results, their motivation will grow. And you will be on your way to creating a culture of learning. One that secures the skills your organisation needs to succeed in the future.
Our Professional Communication Skills training develops your teams’ soft skills to improve performance, productivity and engagement. Our learning design and client service ensure your employees are able to transfer their learning and make an immediate impact in the workplace.
Find more valuable tips by reading our blogs:
- How to integrate communication skills assessments into training
- Four reasons why personalised English learning is good for your business
- Five simple tips to develop effective microlearning solutions