Performance Support

Contextual Help



Exploring the Crucial Contrast Between Technical Skills and Soft Skills Training

Various skills are needed for every job; there’s no doubt about that.

Some skills translate well from company to company, whereas others do not.

But you cannot deny that even the most non-technical jobs out there are still at least somewhat driven by technology. A construction worker might never need a computer for their job, but they likely need to keep track of time or do other administrative tasks with technology.

So, technology shapes our world, and you can’t avoid it. Sorry, not sorry.

But you also can’t deny the importance of interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and other soft skills. And there’s a vast difference between technical skills and soft skills. That also means there’s a huge difference between training for the two.

Training for technical and soft skills requires a very different approach.

Both are essential for success in any professional field, and the line between when one ends and the other begins is sometimes blurred. Even with the technical parts of a job, employees have to blend in soft skills. That means soft skills are incredibly beneficial in technical training.

That means it’s essential to understand the unique qualities of each one and how training for them works differently. It’s also helpful to know how they work together to create an optimal work experience.

To find the right balance between technical skills and soft skills training, it’s helpful to know the distinction between the two.

On a basic level, technical training focuses on teaching the knowledge and abilities needed to use technical tools, processes, and systems. This involves a deep understanding of the technical aspects of a job. It could be coding, corporate software, business analysis, or even architecture.

On the other hand, soft skills training covers the interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving abilities necessary for working with others and navigating relationships in the workplace. Even in an entirely remote environment, there are relationships and work cultures that you have to work within the confines of.

Technical and soft skills are different, but they complement each other.

Soft skills include things like giving feedback, speaking up in a team, communicating, or learning how to ask the right questions.

Exploring the contrast between these two types of training can give us a better understanding of how they are independent yet work together. If comprehensive training is available that covers both or even combines them, that will bring out the best in each individual.

Now it’s time to dive into the key differences between technical and soft skills training. That means providing an in-depth look at how they can be used together to create a strong, effective, and successful working environment.

Defining Each Skill

A little step back will take us a long way forward in understanding each type of skill and how they work together. It’ll also help us understand how training for each one is different.

Technical and soft skills are two distinct types of skills that blend to make super-powered employees. You can’t have one without the other, or you end up with that angsty, uncommunicative programmer who doesn’t talk to anybody and can’t effectively work with others. That’s no way to get anything done.

First, what are technical skills, and how do you train them?

Defining Technical Skills

Technical skills focus on the specific abilities and techniques needed to perform a job or task.

On a relatively basic level, Glassdoor defines technical skills as “the abilities and experience you need to perform a particular job.”

That’s pretty much what I said, right?

Every employee comes with career-specific technical skills but not necessarily organization-specific technical skills. For example, an instructional designer probably knows how to perform the career-specific ADDIE process (though it can. be used for virtually anything). They probably don’t know how your storage system works or company-specific name conventions.

Technical skills vary a lot but focus on specifically how to do tasks that are technical in nature.

Other technical skills include using software programs, designing products, managing databases and networks, and building websites. Whether a job is geared towards technical skills or soft skills varies a lot on a scale. They’re either more technical (but still have soft requirements) or are more soft (but still have technical aspects).

However, because technology is so prevalent in every workplace today, it is needed on some level at every organization. Since every organization uses different technology in specific ways, it’s always essential to have custom software training that helps employees use company technology in their normal workflow.

If your organization doesn’t have good (or any) technical training, bad things will likely happen.

Terrible things.

Dolly Parton putting her thumbs down.

But what about soft skills?

Those must not be important if all we need to know is how to do technical things, right?

Hah, look at what soft skills are and how essential they are also. Otherwise, we’re just a bunch of cavepeople running around with clubs, unable to communicate well with each other.

Defining Soft Skills

Soft skills are more abstract, but they aren’t any less critical. They require someone to understand their work environment and the people with whom they interact. Soft skills include communication, problem-solving, decision-making, emotional intelligence, work ethic, and more.

Technical skills may be necessary to perform tasks, but soft skills are essential for overall success in the workplace and working together.

Soft skill training is essential because it helps people learn and develop the skills necessary for success in the workplace beyond technical skills. Even before the job, soft skills come in handy when you interview. Without some people skills, an interview likely won’t go so swimmingly.

Office Space "I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?"

Soft skills provide a structure for learning how to interact with co-workers, customers, and supervisors effectively. It also helps to build self-confidence, which is essential for success in any job. Although who knows if it will ever defeat imposter syndrome, that stuff is pervasive!

You’ll find that soft skills are especially awesome because they’re completely transferable. That means you can apply them to any situation, not just a specific profession, and they can move with you from job to job. With excellent soft skills at one organization you also have them at another, you just might have to learn company culture specifics.

They also help you adapt to new environments quickly.

The Difference Between the Two

The difference between technical skills and soft skills is essential to recognize. Technical skills are necessary for performing specific tasks, while soft skills are critical for creating successful relationships in the workplace.

Technical skills training focuses on the knowledge and techniques needed to complete tasks in your job, while soft skills training helps to foster interpersonal and communication skills. Both types of training are necessary to be successful in the workplace.

There are benefits and challenges with each. Let’s take a look at some of those!

The Benefits and Challenges of Each

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving job market, the importance of both technical and soft skills cannot be overstated. While technical skills are specific to a particular job or industry, soft skills are transferable across roles, industries, and companies.

However, as with most things, training for these two types of skills has benefits and challenges.

It’s time to explore some of the benefits and challenges of training designed to enhance technical and soft skills. From increased job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities to overcoming resistance to change and ensuring the effectiveness of the training, we will delve into the various aspects of the two types of training and how they can benefit both individuals and organizations.

Benefits of Technical Skill Training

Technical skills can help professionals gain confidence and make them more proficient in their jobs and the organization in which they work. It often involves the development of technical knowledge, abilities, and capabilities related to specific job roles and tasks.

Every organization uses systems differently and has different processes. Technical training provides employees the knowledge to use systems specific to their organization. It also helps contextualize the work and the essential policies to get things right.

You can find a lot more about why technical training matters to your organization in our post about it, which also covers the essentials.

Technical skills training offers neverending benefits to employees and the organization, including some of the following.

  • Improved productivity
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • The ability to handle complex tasks
  • Improved efficiency
  • Improved proficiency
  • More creative thinking
  • Better performance
  • More flexibility

There’s no denying that technical skills are essential in every role in the modern workplace. As you know, technology is pervasive and will only grow in importance. People with more technical knowledge can adjust to the ongoing digital transformation in the workplace.

You can either learn to live with things like generative AI, or you’ll be aggravated trying not to.

But it’s not all glitter and rainbows. There are challenges with technical skills.

Challenges of Technical Skills Training

Technical training often focuses on specific tools. Just as the skills to use those tools are constantly changing, the tools are also always changing.

One of the biggest challenges we experience in dealing with technical training is the neverending change. When creating one custom eLearning course, a system could change five times.

You’ve heard of Agile, right? That also means things could change as fast as you can update training. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to keep up with those changes. It can help maintain an agile mindset in instructional design, but that can only do so much in a constantly changing environment.

If you’re dealing with instructor-led training, those issues could be amplified since you must keep trainers up to speed. That’s one of the myriad reasons we don’t deal with instructor-led technical training.

Technical skills often require a deep understanding of the subject matter. It also requires constant revisions and revisiting training. There are a lot of variables in creating corporate technical training that doesn’t exist with soft skills.

Instead, soft skills have those variables baked into the actual skills that need to be taught.

Dr. Evil being evil.

The Benefits of Soft Skills Training

Soft skills enable employees to communicate effectively and develop their interpersonal skills.

Isn’t that benefit enough for soft skills?

No, no it isn’t. Therefore, I must go on.

It can help employees build a strong team dynamic and create a strong sense of motivation among the team. Employees who can navigate the details of an organization’s people are set up for success.

Relationships are what most businesses come down to.

Strong soft skills results in better collaboration, improved productivity, and more creative solutions. You’ll almost always find that employees who are strong in soft skills are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. That’s a hard one to achieve!

It also allows them to manage tasks and relationships better. Employees who are masters of soft skills can better express themselves and handle challenging situations more effectively.

The advantages of soft skills are that they provide employees with valuable tools to help them succeed and do better for the organization.

Challenges of Training for Soft Skills

While soft skills are the foundation of a successful professional, training has many challenges. Have you ever asked an expert exactly how they accomplish what they can do? Sometimes they simply don’t know what they know in terms they can easily explain.

Soft skills can be challenging to teach because they require communication, empathy, and feedback. It’s not easy to help employees develop their communication skills, learn how to be assertive, ask better questions, and respectfully express conflicting ideas to others.

Sometimes there’s no easy way to boil down that information into something easy to train.

Part of teaching soft skills is also to help employees develop their problem-solving skills, manage their time, and remain positive when faced with challenges.

Soft skills aren’t easy to train on or design training for.

Soft skills require creativity and patience to train them. But being in learning & development requires a great deal of patience.

Trainers and instructional designers must be creative with activities and exercises that engage people and help them practice their soft skills in a safe environment (just like a safe environment is necessary for learning software skills). It’s also important to provide meaningful feedback and recognition that employees can use to motivate themselves to learn and improve their soft skills.

None of that is easy! Have you ever looked at content that needs to be taught for soft skills? It’s difficult to break it up into a training format that’s clear and concise enough to understand and be well received.

Some of the content I’ve received for soft skills is more overwhelming than any technical content I’ve ever received. It’s especially essential to start with nothing when creating training for soft skills because it can be so challenging.

How Technical Skills and Soft Skills Work Together

The modern job market requires employees to have technical and soft skills to succeed in their jobs. Technical skills are the knowledge and abilities acquired to perform a specific job effectively. They are typically quantifiable, such as being able to perform a particular task.

Soft skills are quite the complement of technical skills. They’re the interpersonal qualities that enable people to interact effectively with others and complete the job. Those are easy to identify with interview questions about how you’d deal with a difficult coworker or something about how you’d deal with a situation.

Both technical and soft skills are essential for professional success in the workplace. Technical skills are needed to complete specific tasks, while soft skills help to maximize the effectiveness of those skills when working with others.

No job is performed in a silo. That means both technical and soft skills are essential.

Jobs require the seamless integration of both technical and soft skills. An ideal combination allows people to work efficiently and effectively in a team environment.

It benefits the organization by helping employees gain professional development opportunities to learn technical and soft skills. That will ensure employees have well-rounded talents for success in their jobs.

Choosing Between Technical Skills and Soft Skills Training

Employers must know how to balance investing in technical and soft skills training when considering employee training.

That’s no easy task since they’re both essential to successful employees.

On the one hand, technical skills training focuses on developing a worker’s competency and expertise in a particular area, such as company software or data analysis. On the other hand, soft skill training focuses more on general interpersonal skills and personality traits, such as problem-solving, communication, and leadership.

No organization can survive or thrive without both technical and soft skill training.

You can’t make it in an organization without both!

When deciding which type of training to pursue, employers should consider the nature and needs of their organization. Technical skills training is best suited for roles that require a high level of technical proficiency. In contrast, soft skill training should be used for positions that require interpersonal skills, such as customer service.

But it’s not about one or the other; it’s about finding the perfect blend for doing the job well.

Investing in both types of training can result in a productive, efficient, well-rounded workforce. But depending on your specific needs, you may invest more heavily in one or the other.

One essential technical training topic is custom software applications your organization uses. Few employees can simply pick up a new software tool and start using it without any training. Bad things can happen without adequate training for company software.

Implementing Technical and Soft Skills Training in Your Organization

Organizations must understand the importance of technical and soft skills training to develop their employees effectively. Implementing technical and soft skills training in your organization can help improve employee performance and productivity and cultivate a culture of continuous improvement.

Training should focus not only on the technical aspects of the job but also on the “human” elements, such as interpersonal relationships and team dynamics. That’s why we always say there’s more to technical training than just how to do it. Technical training has to tie into how the task is done in the flow of work. That even includes the soft skills necessary when working with other employees.

When it comes to implementing training, it’s essential to consider the different needs of each role and how the tasks they need to perform tie together holistically. Every role will have some blend of technical and soft skills.

Never forget that technical and soft skills training are not mutually exclusive. Soft skills should also be embedded in technical training, and technical training may sometimes be embedded into soft skills training.

By providing the right blend between the two, organizations can ensure that their employees have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their roles.

Wrap Up

We covered a lot of ground, but you should now understand the crucial contrast between training for technical skills and soft skills and how they work together. You know what each one is, the differences between them, and the benefits and challenges of each.

By understanding the differences between technical and soft skills, organizations can develop comprehensive training that helps employees excel professionally and take into account all the different parts of a job rather than simply technical or soft.

While we specialize in technical training, we realize it doesn’t exist in a silo. We look at every project we work on from a holistic approach that accounts for both.

If you’d like to discuss technical, soft skills, or even a blend that considers both aspects, we’d love to talk. Schedule a free consultation so we can understand your project and how to help your organization succeed with better training.

Leave a Comment