Regardless of the industry they work in or the number of employees that report to them, all supervisors need to possess certain common skills in order to be effective in their roles. For example, the head of an information technology department may know everything about a new computer application, but he also needs to be able to effectively communicate that knowledge to his staff. Soft skills training refers to topics that involve interpersonal relations, rather than 'hard' knowledge that is technical in nature.
Soft skills training courses geared toward supervisors cover a broad range of topics that are perennial in nature. These include leadership, management, communication, project management, diversity, problem solving, succession planning and risk-taking, to name a few. They are referred to as 'soft skills' because they don't focus on technical applications or knowledge, but rather on skills that improve productivity and communication between supervisors and their staff.
Given the competitive nature of business, providing supervisors with proper training has become critical to corporate survival. Soft skills training can help improve the relationships between supervisors and employees by helping to foster a work environment that is collaborative and efficient. In effect, this often leads to improved, overall bottom-line performance because employee motivation, loyalty and productivity all increase.
For years, training and development experts have argued about the best delivery platform for soft skills training programs that focus on communication skills. While many argue the lower costs involved in technology-based learning options, like virtual classrooms, webinars and self-paced CD-ROMs, others insist that interpersonal skills can only be taught via face-to-face instruction.
According to Impact Factory.com, the globalization of most companies has led to an increase in the influence of various cultures in the workplace. Supervisors need to be able to effectively handle differences among their staff and customer base, which are both becoming more diverse and multi-cultural. Therefore, soft skills training focused on areas like problem solving and business communications (including email conduct) are becoming more important.
The best time to send supervisors for any type of soft skills training is right before they will become responsible for managing the performance of a support staff. All too often organizations promote individuals into supervisory roles with little to no training, and the results can be disastrous and financially costly. Knowing how to do things like resolve conflict among employees and manage a project in advance prepares them for all of the challenges they may face as supervisor and ensures the transition will be as seamless as possible.