A variety of skills are needed for every job, there’s no doubt about that.
Some skills translate well from company to company whereas others, not so much.
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 to use 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 huge difference between technical skills and soft skills. That also means there’s a huge difference between training for the two.
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 greatly 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.
Soft skills training, on the other hand, covers the interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving abilities that are 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.
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 skills and soft skills training. That means providing you with 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 else 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 up, what are technical skills and how do you train for 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. As an example, an instructional designer probably comes knowing how to perform the ADDIE process which is career-specific. They probably don’t come knowing the way your storage system works or naming conventions which is company-specific.
Other examples of technical skills include the ability to use software programs, design products, manage databases and networks, and build websites. Whether a job is geared towards technical skills or soft skills varies a lot kind of on a scale. They’re either more technical (but still have soft requirements) or are more soft (but still have technical aspects).
But because technology is so prevalent in every workplace today they are needed on some level at every organization. And since every organization uses different technology and 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.
But what about soft skills?
Those must not be important then if all we need to know is how to do technical things, right?
Hah, take a 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 important. They require someone to understand the environment in which they are working and the people with whom they are interacting. Soft skills can 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.
Soft skills provide a structure for learning how to effectively interact with co-workers, customers, and supervisors. 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 also move with you from job to job. With great 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 important to recognize. Technical skills are necessary for performing certain tasks, while soft skills are essential 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.
But as with most things, training for these two types of skills has its benefits as well as challenges.
It’s time to explore some of the benefits and challenges of training designed to enhance both 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 it can benefit both individuals and organizations.
Benefits of Technical Skill Training
Technical skills can help professionals gain confidence and make them more proficient in not only their jobs but also the organization they work at. 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 with the knowledge to use systems that are specific to your organization. It also helps put into context how the work is done and the policies that are important 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 who have 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 always changing, the tools themselves are always changing too.
One of the biggest challenges we experience in dealing with technical training is the neverending change. During the creation of 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 to maintain an agile mindset in instructional design but that can only do so much with a constantly changing environment.
If you’re dealing with instructor-led training then those issues could be amplified since you also have to keep trainers up to speed. That’s one reason in a myriad of the 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 simply doesn’t exist with soft skills.
Instead, soft skills have those variables baked into the actual skills that need to be taught.
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.
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 better manage tasks and relationships. Not to mention employees who are masters of the soft skills can better express themselves and handle challenging situations more effectively.
Overall, the advantages of soft skills 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, there are lots of challenges in training. 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 difficult to teach because they require communication, empathy, and feedback. It’s not an easy task to help employees develop their communication skills, learn how to be assertive, how to 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 to.
Part of teaching soft skills is also to help employees develop their problem-solving skills, how to manage their time, and how to remain positive when faced with challenges.
Soft skills require creativity and patience in order 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 as well as 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 that employees have both technical and soft skills to be successful 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 specific task.
Soft skills are quite the complement of technical skills. They’re the interpersonal qualities that enable people to interact effectively with others and actually 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 important 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.
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
When considering employee training, employers must know how to balance investing in technical and soft skills training.
That’s no easy task since they’re both essential to successful employees.
On 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 is more focused on general interpersonal skills and personality traits, such as problem-solving, communication, and leadership.
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, while 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 well-rounded workforce that is productive and efficient. 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 need to understand the importance of technical and soft skills training to effectively develop their employees. Implementing technical and soft skills training in your organization can help improve employee performance and productivity, as well as 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 important to take into consideration the different needs of each role and how the tasks they need to perform tie together holistically. Every role will have some sort of blend between technical and soft skills.
Never forget that technical and soft skills training are not mutually exclusive. Soft skills should be embedded in technical training as well 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 are equipped with the right skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their roles.
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, as well as 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. Every project we work on we look at from a holistic approach that accounts for them both.
If you’d like to discuss technical, soft skills, or even a blend that takes into account both aspects, we’d love to talk. Simply schedule a free consultation so we can get an understanding of your project and how to help your organization be more successful with better training.