How do you know if the training is sticking? How do you know that soft skill improvements are making a difference? Regardless of the industry, these questions are always present. Organizational stakeholders and individuals need to know that there is a Return on Investment (ROI) when they make decisions to train their workforce. We must also consider the Return on Expectations (ROE) so that we deliver an experience and result that meets expectations.
To invest in training we need to know that it is working – and how well. Entire systems are created in an attempt to measure soft skills.
Capturing Data vs. Capturing Experience
We are realizing that data isn’t capturing the importance and detail of training outcomes. Trainers are shifting their approach so that soft skills are measured through videos and pictures. For instance, if stakeholders are looking for engagement and fun, they are able to watch their employees participate through captured videos. The visual moves beyond the non-interactive data collection of the spreadsheet toward a more impactful connection. But what about the coaching or training that is not all fun – the ones where stakeholders are looking for shifts in outcomes.
Stick-to-itiveness (n) :
Dogged perseverance. The quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult or unpleasant.
Stick-to-itiveness, first coined in 1867, speaks to this determination to understand how to measure the impact of soft skills. We are trying to capture the impact as a person or group enters into communication coaching and/or training. When soft skills training is sticky, the training can be seen and measured through how it impacts the employee, their experience, and business connection. We know it isn’t enough to “talk at” people – we must find ways to engage people in a true life-altering experience. So many coachings | trainings skim the surface of issues plaguing our current workforce cultures. When we coach the situations that shift the effectiveness of personal and interpersonal interactions, we see a deeper engagement and connection personally, as well as within and between teams. When we coach individuals to effectively engage, connect, and create relationship, they’re able to maintain open communication. For instance, when a consultant explores and understands what is getting in the way of their approach, they are able to have a greater connection with their client, which can help support and move the business initiatives forward. The results are greater efficiency and greater impact. We also see this in choices made in team interaction. By coaching the communication, we experience teammates having greater collaboration, and with greater collaboration, the team is more effective. The effectiveness and efficiency speaks to the importance of soft skills communication training.
Revisiting the training & participant commitment
As ARTiculate coaches, we measure the effectiveness of soft skills by revisiting the training with the clients a month after the training. This brings the participant back to their written and stated commitment from the training. On a sheet of paper, participants write down the 1 – 2 things that they want to shift in their communication style. They are turning in these commitment sheets, and, months after the experience, we are checking in with the participant to inquire about the commitment they made and how they are noticing the shifts in their working relationships. Not only are they drawn back to their commitment, they are reminded that a coach remembers and cares about their growth. I have found that when inquiry happens, the participants want to share their personal stories of how the training is sticking, as well as with their appreciation for the coach – client connection. The email testimonials are saved so that examples can be shared when a measurement is required for business justification. Management can witness the stick-to-itiveness of the training by seeing how their staff is practicing continuously and their entire company benefits from these shifts.
Meaningful Experience & Lasting Impact
So, yes to flipcharts, pictures, pollings and videos – AND as a communication coach, the real measure for Return on Investment is stick-to-itiveness which impacts and shifts behavior so that connection and relationship supports the business culture and an employee’s personal fulfillment.
written By Robin A. Miller, PhD, CPCC