The new normal is the age of remote learning. But despite how effective it can be, there are topics that can be hard to discuss using this method. One of them is soft skills.
In a previous blog post, we discussed why soft skills are not soft at all, but essential. And in the age of artificial intelligence where some skills can be done by machines, soft skills can help you—and your job—stay relevant. The problem is that, how can you teach soft skills through virtual training programs when it highly requires sensory immersion—one of the things that in-person training programs can provide? And this is just one of the issues with training for soft skills virtually.
In this blog post, we’ll list down some issues that you may experience when transitioning your soft skills training programs to a virtual format, and how you can solve them.
How to Solve Issues with Training for Soft Skills Virtually
Issue No. 1: Lack of Sensory Immersion
For soft skills training to trigger and support long-term positive behavioral change and development, the participants don’t only need to learn it but also feel it. This is what you call sensory immersion. The challenge is that, with your learners and facilitators not in the same room, how can you ensure that they get and are immersed in the training program?
Different soft skills require different methods of immersion. For example, some soft skills need group discussions to be fully understood, some need practice sessions or role-playing. The key is not only to understand the theory but also for the participants to pick up the subtle emotional cues that will help them better comprehend the soft skill. With virtual training, you can miss that.
How to solve it: Planning your virtual training for soft skills with engaging and social activities can help you solve the lack of sensory immersion. Remote learning can be interactive and social. You can use a collaborative platform and insert activities into the program such as group discussions, question and answer portions, and even role-playing! You just to take careful consideration of how to conduct these, and make sure to observe and lead the learners into actively participating.
Issue No. 2: Feeling of Isolation
One essential thing for remote training participants is to find a place where they can concentrate on the program. This often means that they’re alone in a quiet place, staring at a screen. And this may lead to participants having a sense of isolation, making them not engaged in the training program or worse, disengaging them.
How to solve it: One small thing you could do to prevent or at least alleviate the feeling of isolation is to turn on your camera while you’re speaking. Encourage other participants to do it, too. This way, each learner feels they’re talking to an actual human being and not just to a device. If you’re the facilitator, once in a while, prompt them to talk and communicate with each other. Have some minor group activities too that will help them bond with each other so that they know that while they’re all in different locations, they’re “together”.
Issue No. 3: Distractions
Distractions are present everywhere. May it be in the office, or at home. With most of your learners probably working from home due to the community quarantines in place or just to stay safe from the virus, they’re not safe from distractions. Family members, kids, pets, or just other things can be a disturbance to a participant’s focus on a training program.
How to solve it: Distractions are unpredictable and inevitable. What you could do though, is to make sure that your participant retains the information that they need. Your participants surely have other things on their minds. And you don’t exactly need to have their full attention to make them learn. Divide the knowledge and information you impart to bite-sized chunks for maximum focus and easy retention. You could also assign them “homework” that they could practice with real people. This is so that they could apply what they learned from the virtual soft skills training program.
Issue No. 4: The Virtual Barrier
For some people, the fact that it’s virtual can already be a barrier. Especially when you train for soft skills. Soft skills rely on understanding and practice to be developed. Some learners can have prejudice with remote training, or they’re just not used to it. And that can be a hindrance to their engagement and learning experience.
How to solve it: You first have to determine how your soft skills training program can be done virtually. Take into account everything—your goals and resources, and the obstacles you may face and failure you may experience. Clear up the prejudice or misconceptions that your participants may have with your virtual training program. So that when they do participate, their bias won’t affect their experience. It’s also good if you could follow up on your virtual soft skills training with an in-person session or a mentoring program.
You can make your soft skills training programs successful, even if they’re done virtually! We hope that with the tips above, you can better solve the issues you may face when conducting one.
People Dynamics, Inc. can help you with your learning and employee development needs! People Dynamics offers public and in-house training programs, seminars, workshops, certification programs, and team building in the Philippines. For more information, contact us here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at the following numbers: (02) 8 635 0016 / 8 637 8770 / 8 635 9215.