By Kyle Lagunas HR Market Analyst, Software Advice
Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice. On the surface, it’s his job to contribute to the ongoing conversation on all things HR. Beyond that, he makes sure his audience is keeping up with important trends and hot topics in the industry. Focused on offering a fresh take on points of interest in his market, he’s not your typical HR guy. Find out more about him at his blog Software Advice.
Soft skills – those oh-so-important qualities such as adaptability, critical thinking and creativity – are what’s needed to bridge the gap between good and great employees. Unlike with black-and-white technical skills, however, these types of competencies often fall in a gray area of subjectivity. Given the value organizations place on soft skills, it’s essential for human resource (HR) managers to regularly assess their soft skills training programs.
Creating objective ways to measure things that are really subjective, however, can be a serious challenge. There are some things to keep in mind when measuring soft skills programs, and also a few tools that can simplify information gathering and analysis.
Three Keys to Successful Skills Measurement
Leadership needs data that illustrates the value of soft skills training programs. As such you need to identify what matters most to your organization, and there are a few key factors that will help you in uncovering the most actionable information:
● Determine what you’ll be measuring. It’s important that your organization clearly defines which soft skills are most important, and your company’s core values should guide this discussion closely. For instance, if your organization values internal succession then ensuring employees have the right types of leadership development and mentoring would be critical.
● Get leadership on board. Rolling out a measurement strategy will be an uphill battle with little payoff unless you have a unified front. Establish clarity and alignment at the outset, as this measurement process will require buy-in across the board.
● Keep it simple and focused. It’s best to start small and focus measurement around one or two competency areas. The soft skills most essential to your organizations’ specific goals are the best place to start.
Customer & Employee Relations a Good Place to Start
There are two tried-and-true facets of your organization that offer a good starting place to identify areas for improvement. In order to determine where employees need further training, ask two simple questions:
● Are customers happy and coming back? Efforts to provide customers with the service that keeps them coming back may require some intensive company-wide customer service training, particularly in areas such as conflict resolution or active listening. If leadership is looking to measure how soft skills deliver return on investment (ROI), this is a great place to start gathering actionable data.
● Do employees have what they need to succeed? Not surprising, it’s important to understand how your employees feel day to day – and I’m not just talking about general job satisfaction. If your people aren’t happy, it’s bound to show in the way they relate to your customers and to each other – which might be an indication that you’re investing in the wrong areas.
Surveys to Software: Gathering & Reviewing Data
Many organizations rely on traditional performance reviews to measure employees’ soft skills competency. Additionally, focus groups and surveys also offer an opportunity to gather feedback specifically about your soft skills training programs. These data sources combined can be used to begin formulating a baseline of how employees are doing in key areas.
By providing actionable data on key areas – retention rates, time to proficiency, cost per employee, etc. – analytics tools found in many talent management systems go a long way in illustrating benchmarks that your business leaders can understand and appreciate. They offer organizations the ability to gather hard data and identify changes and trends in the workforce – areas that can be tracked to soft skill competencies and development.
Regardless of the type of tool used, though, the point here is that you gather the data. With this information, you can then explore questions, such as: Are you seeing increased employee retention? What improvements are these initiatives having on performance and productivity? Starting small and remaining focused helps, as does a healthy dose of patience and perseverance.
Article reference source from Software Advice.