Your staff is your greatest asset. If they don’t deliver on the mission of your company, you won’t reach your business goals. It really is as simple – and as complicated – as that. Training is key to preparing your employees for success on the job, but not just any training will do. In order to reap all the benefits of a trained workforce, you have to balance hard skills training with soft skills training.
What’s the Difference Between Hard and Soft Skills Training?
Hard skills are clear and measurable. Employees acquire hard skills through training courses on topics such as software applications, equipment use, and compliance regulations. With hard skills, there is usually an obvious right and wrong way, and employees are able to master the right way through implementing what they’ve learned. As a manager, you can usually pinpoint where employees need to improve their hard skills and provide targeted training for improvement.
Soft skills are less clear cut. They are often referred to as “people” skills or “interpersonal” skills because they relate to the way an employee interacts with other people in the workplace. Soft skills are more difficult to measure and, often, more difficult to teach. Defining the right way and wrong way with soft skills can be subjective, and therefore it’s harder to home in on specific areas for improvement.
Are There Similarities Between Hard and Soft Skills Training?
While hard skills and soft skills are very different, it’s important to remember that in some ways, a skill is a skill. When it comes to training, it’s important to balance training on hard skills and soft skills because both impact your business. Here’s how:
- Both types of skills affect customer service. If an employee can’t use the company software to complete a transaction, customer satisfaction declines. Similarly, if an employee can’t implement problem-solving techniques to address customer concerns, customer loyalty declines.
- Employee development and confidence are affected by both types of skills training. The more employees know – both technically and interpersonally – the more opportunities they have to grow their careers. If you’re the one to provide the skills training they need, they’re more likely to move up in your organization rather than moving on somewhere else.
- Improve teamwork and productivity. All types of training will foster teamwork and productivity. As the collective knowledge of your staff increases, employees are more able to help and mentor each other. In turn, this will lead to less staff turnover and higher morale.
Which Is More Important?
Hard skills and soft skills are both important to the success of your business. Don’t make the mistake of reserving soft skills training to only employees in supervisory positions or on an upward career path. A well-rounded and blended training program delivered to all employees will help you protect the investment you make in employee development.