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Soft Skills Training. The Challenge of Obtaining Management and Participant Buy-In. Are you frustrated by Managers resisting soft skills training?. “I don’t have the time” “It’s only a ‘nice to have” “I can’t see any changes” “We can’t afford it” “Other needs are more urgent”

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Soft Skills Training

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Soft Skills Training

The Challenge of Obtaining Management and Participant Buy-In

Are you frustrated by Managers

resisting soft skills training?

“I don’t have the time”

“It’s only a ‘nice to have”

“I can’t see any changes”

“We can’t afford it”

“Other needs are more urgent”

“I can’t spare them for that long”

How To Gain Buy-in for Soft Skills Training

What core non-technical skills do you need?

How do you get management support?

How do you ensure return on your investment?

What are the Challenges?

  • Lack of management buy-in

  • Difficulty in evaluating effectiveness

  • Dislocated from the business

  • Cynical participants

How to Make Soft Skills Training Successful

  • Relate it to your customers’ needs

  • Link it to business requirements

Demands on Training Community

  • Knowledge about key business drivers

  • Able to talk costs and benefits

  • Understand process of strategy development

  • Able to translate requirements into practical action

1. Identifying non-technical skillsWho are our Customers?

  • The Company

  • Managers - of units, divisions or departments

  • Individuals

Priority Customer 1:The Company

  • Organisational strategy

    • Culture Challenges

    • Vision and objectives Standards

  • Organisational Effectiveness

    • Core competencies

    • Opinion Surveys

    • Succession Planning and Career Development

    • Re-engineering

How to Start: 7-S Framework










  • Strategic direction

  • Vision statement

  • Key objectives

  • Critical success factors

  • Core competencies


  • Issues with spans of control, reporting relationships, authority

  • Centralisation vs. decentralisation

  • Business unit organisation structures

  • Matrix management


  • Processes

    • Benchmarking

    • Total quality

    • Re-engineering

    • Internal customers

  • Procedures

    • Orientation

  • Systems

    • Technology and Roll out

Shared Values

  • Organisation Culture

  • Articulation of values

  • Identification of behaviours which demonstrate the values

  • Buy-in and implementation of values


  • Way managers behave:

    • Walk the talk

    • Priorities and focus

    • Leadership style

    • Meeting style


  • Composition and development

  • Qualifications

  • Skills

  • Training

  • Appraisals

  • Succession


  • Core competencies

  • Job profile competencies

  • Assessment centres

  • Development centres

Priority Customer 2: Managers

  • Department objectives

  • Changes ahead

  • Team issues

  • Internal customer surveys

  • Standards reviews

Priority Customer 3: Individuals

  • Appraisals

  • Career Plans

  • Personal Development Plans

  • Assessment and Development Centres

2. How to Get Management Support

  • Get a sponsor: your key customer

  • Identify stakeholders: supporters and blockers

  • Use data to substantiate the need

  • Design so that work links are clear

  • Design to fit learner needs

  • Evaluate and publish effectiveness

If Management Won’t Talk to You!

  • If you believe an initiative is important: GET FACTUAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT YOUR VIEW:

    • focus groups

    • interviews

    • surveys or email questionnaires

    • performance or productivity data

    • relate it to a business objective or to the company’s/department’s effectiveness


3. Return on Investment: Evaluation Levels


‘Happiness Sheets’

Level 1

Level 2


Level 3


Work application

Level 4



How to help workplace application

  • Design application support processes BEFORE launch eg.:

    Line Management Auditing standards


    Action PlansLearning logs

    Learning SetsMentoring

    Resource centres CBT

    Self development aids or manuals

Level 4: When is it worth the effort?

  • When hard data has some face validity

    • eg. Improved sales retention after sales training

    • Team productivity improvements

  • When the link to achieving the company’s objective is not clear

  • When management agree in advance to the evaluation process

Your Role in selling soft skills

  • Identify priority customer groups

  • Link Soft Skills to Strategy or Effectiveness

  • Use a 7-S framework to establish needs

  • Identify stakeholders: supporters and blockers

  • Use data to justify investment

  • Design application aids at the start

  • Publish evaluation results

Any questions?

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