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Soft Skills Coaching: The Biggest Missed Opportunity in the Enterprise

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Joel Makhluf

With one of the most tumultuous years of business behind us, employees around the globe are emotionally and physically exhausted. For 2021, leadership teams need to understand the gravity of soft skills and the value these traits drive for organizations particularly when it comes to customer engagement. The key will be for leaders to recognize how they can better train and support staff in this critical area. 

Whereas hard skills are more easily teachable and measurable abilities, such as writing, reading, math or the ability to use certain programs, soft skills are more intangible. Previously hidden under the guise of “good people skills,” soft skills are a combination of social skills, emotional intelligence, attitudes and character traits that enable a person to positively influence outcomes in a personal or professional context. 

Demystifying Soft Skills Coaching

Despite being found by employers to be more vital to career success than concrete or technical skills, soft skills remain difficult to coach. However, with the right tools and processes in place, soft skills can become highly trainable. 

A key factor in soft skills training is the concept of emotional intelligence – The ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Crucial for success in any field of business, the development of our emotional intelligence or EQ, is quite literally limitless. 

Consider that a study conducted by Boston College, Harvard University and the University of Michigan supports the idea that the development of soft skills increases business ROI; The case cites that soft skills training increased productivity by 12%, increased employee retention, and as a result delivered a total 256% ROI.

While many employees will organically improve over time and with practice, those with more highly developed soft skills are more likely to succeed when compared to their colleagues without them. Not to mention, employees who have more developed soft skills are more liked, happier in their jobs, and as a result, are more likely to stick with their companies.

So, how can organizations elevate soft skills coaching to achieve enhanced performance?

Situational by nature, and often developed and used unconsciously, soft skills can be more easily measured with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled technology that works in concert with employees. 

The Future of Professional Development in the Enterprise

Measuring soft skills objectively and coaching at scale has proven more difficult to tackle in the enterprise. It’s true that enhanced soft skills don’t come overnight. In fact, according to LinkedIn Learning data, management spends significantly more time working to develop their soft skills than most employees. The analysis shows that CEO’s spend 20% more time on soft skills development than the average employee and for managers that number jumps to 30%.

With a lifetime of learning soft skills ahead, employers can set their employees up for success with the help of an AI coach. Undoubtedly the future of professional development, AI coaches have the unique ability to be “always on” in considering innate human characteristics like emotion and stress, as well as how it can positively augment those abilities. 

For example, with the support of Cogito’s human-aware AI Coaching System, a Fortune 100 healthcare provider was able to foster higher employee performance during the difficult and sudden shift to remote work that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company came to Cogito with the challenge of supporting and encouraging positive behavior to achieve better results, not just for their employees but also for their members and health care providers. After deploying Cogito, the healthcare provider reported better customer interactions, as well as easier management and coaching for supervisors which increased overall customer satisfaction. 

By leaning on advanced, human-aware technology, any organization can help foster the level of empathy and soft skills that today’s modern enterprise requires. Want to learn more about how you can implement AI-enhanced soft skills coaching in your organization? Download our free ebook here.


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