When HR departments look for training and development programs for their organizations’ leaders and high potentials, they often focus on industry-specific and job-related tasks. This is because, much more than “soft skills” like communication, teamwork, or critical analysis, these more concrete skills are easier to standardize across departments and titles and simpler to evaluate and teach.
However, the truly important skills, especially for employees who lead teams (or would like to lead teams someday), are those more elusive soft skills. And HR leaders know this—in fact, the vast majority of recruiters rate communication as the most important skill they’re looking for in a new hire.
So why is it that so few organizations have managed to make soft skills training a priority?
The unfortunate truth is that there are very few resources available to help companies give employees the skills they need. Let’s take communication, for example. It’s the activity that drives 80 percent of our work on any given day, but because it’s always been subjective—an art, even—it’s also one of the hardest to evaluate in any sort of objective, efficient, or scalable way.
Part of the problem is that, while necessary soft skills may be similar from employee to employee, the specific requirements vary from role to role. We can agree that every leader—and every employee—will be more effective if he or she is a strong communicator. But when we start to look at what that means for each individual, it starts to get more complicated:
- Salespeople need to be charismatic, persuasive, and personable in order to earn trust from potential buyers.
- Managers need to be clear and thorough, diving into the hows and whys that will inspire their teams to get behind each new project.
- CMOs need to be master storytellers in order to amass a loyal following for a brand.
- CFOs need to be candid, confident, and future oriented when they’re talking to investors about the company’s earnings.
- CEOs need to be the visionaries that can keep every internal and external stakeholder engaged, motivated, and inspired.
You can see how, with communication needs varying from leader to leader—and even more from audience to audience—it’s been nearly impossible for HR and talent development leaders to identify affordable training programs. With the prohibitive cost of personal executive coaching and the fleeting results of formulaic workshops or seminars, organizations across the globe are searching for effective, scalable, and customizable learning strategies that can give each individual the skills he or she needs to succeed.
At Quantified Communications, we’re leveraging the latest in machine learning technology and communication science to offer organizations exactly that. Our data-driven communication evaluations offer leaders and potential leaders the same quality training they’d get from individual executive coaches—with the added benefit of tracking capabilities that enable learners to measure progress and update action plans for maximum impact. And all without busting the L&D budget.
Limited resources have long made it difficult for organizations to build communication training into their learning and development strategies. But if leadership’s so-called “soft skills” are the key to success, shouldn’t they be a number-one training priority?
For the first time, they can.