Training Industry Magazine - Spring 2015 - (Page 11)
Popular culture can teach the world of
work some very good lessons at times.
"The Dinosaur Blues" by singer and
writer Steven Fromholz is a fine example.
The song is an ode to getting older and
reflecting on life experiences. There are
two particularly relevant lines in the song:
"Change is the very most natural of things
and life is mostly attitude and timing."
These two lines should be at the front of
the minds of all learning professionals
when their organization is planning a soft
skills development initiative or struggling
with a major change program.
Ensuring that skills development sticks
and converts into new behaviors is one of
the major challenges in soft skills training.
There is plenty of evidence to indicate we
are still not very good at that. Many of the
approaches we use are suboptimal.
Standard training is not the answer
when it comes to developing the traits
associated with soft skills, such as integrity,
empathy, motivation and other emotional
competencies. We can train until the sun
goes down and unless we win hearts and
minds, behavior simply won't change.
When it comes to behaviors such as
diversity and compliance, traditional soft
skills training simply has not delivered
according to the research evidence.
Let's look at diversity training. It is critical
that people behave correctly in the
workplace with respect to others who may
be different. Apart from it being desirable,
there are laws in many countries that
demand this happens. Organizations have
a responsibility to support diversity.
However, in March 2012, Peter Bregman
reported in a Harvard Business Review
blog post that "diversity training doesn't
UNLESS WE WIN
HEARTS AND MINDS,
Bregman cited a meta-study of diversity
behaviors in 829 companies over the
span of 31 years that showed diversity
training had "no positive effects in the
average workplace." He pointed out that
researchers at the University of Minnesota
also concluded that "in firms where training
is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of
lawsuits, training actually has negative
effects on management diversity."
This is a worrying situation. If diversity
training has no effect, what about other
behaviors that rely heavily on soft skills
Jeff Kaplan, a U.S. lawyer and national
expert on compliance and ethics, reported
a case where the U.S. Justice Department
suggested that half-hearted compliance
and ethics training had actually enabled
criminality in the form of bribery to
continue. Half-hearted training does
this by creating a defense in the event of
detection, so people are more likely to run
close to, and over, the line.
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - SPRING20 1 5 I WWW.TRAIN INGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
- CH AR L E S J E NNING S
PERFORMANCE AND PRODUCTIVITY
Kaplan also points out that this isn't
surprising as compliance training is often
generic and not tailored for specific
needs. It's created and delivered in an
utterly wholesale manner. Additionally,
the training is often disconnected from
risk-causing events. In other words, the
training is divorced from the context
where risks occur.
These two examples of soft skills
intensive behaviors suggest that it may
be better to encourage the development
of compliance mindsets and diversity
attitudes in different ways for greater
This is where Steve Fromholz's "life is
mostly attitude and timing" credo is
helpful. Attitudes develop and are best
changed through observing how others,
especially people we respect, behave.
If we want to develop the soft skills in our
organization, we must ensure that our
senior leaders and high performers are
the first to display the behaviors that we
want to see. Coaching and support may be
required to get this initial cohort aligned
and behaving in ways that reflect the skills
needed. Once this happens, and if the
timing is right, the rest of the organization
Charles Jennings is a director of the Internet
Time Alliance. He is the former chief learning
officer for Thomson Reuters, where he was
responsible for the development of 55,000
professionals. Email Charles.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - Spring 2015
Soft Skills Make Up Vital Part of Corporate Training
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Leadership: The Artichoke Effect
Focusing on Mindsets and Attitudes
The Importance of Soft Skills For Trainers
Social Simulators Bring Training to Life
The Power of Storytelling in Organizational Development
Leading Change with Resilience
Why Perspective Selling Makes Sense
Harnessing the Power of Teamwork
Collaborate to Innovate: Building an Innovation-Friendly Business Culture
Are You Using the Best Metrics to Evaluate Your Skills Training?
Influencing into the Future
Culture: The Enemy at the Gate of Innovation
Casebook: T-Mobile: Answering the Call for Leadership Development
Leadership is an Inside Job
Vendor Selection Tips for Corporate Sales Training
Checking Your Motivation to Lead
The Real ROI of Leadership Training: Soft Skills Lead to Hard Results
Training Industry Magazine - Spring 2015