The power of soft skills: Training on personality types

training based on personality typesIn enterprise learning, many companies emphasize functional training (i.e. “hard skills”) that enable people to further their careers by expanding job-specific capabilities. This is extremely important, obviously, and will continue to be a strong focus area for corporate L&D. However, it’s just not the whole picture when it comes to developing holistic employee and team performance.

Just as the Emotional Quotient (EQ) / Personality Quotient (PQ) trend reminded employers that interpersonal skills may in fact be more valuable to an organization than IQ, so to speak, we’re now seeing an encouraging shift toward training on soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, and teamwork.

Discovery Report explains this concept concisely:

“Your Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, measures your intelligence. Your Personality Quotient, or PQ, refers to your ability to understand yourself and others for effective communication and teamwork. Studies have shown that technical skill, beginning with intelligence and developed through education and experience, accounts for only 15% of success in the workplace. The other 85% of workplace success comes from people skills! These skills are developed through learning better ways to behave and interact.”

Let me address the naysayers before getting into the details of training on personality types. Surely, to some traditionalists, training on soft skills sounds like some newfangled, touchy-feely waste of time and resources. Why not just concentrate on the nuts and bolts of a person’s job function and train accordingly? The short answer is because enhancing EQ/PQ brings real, measurable value to the organization.

According to The Emotional Intelligence Network: “The link between EQ and organizational performance can be drawn from a number of performance variables. EQ scores can quickly be correlated with customer service, sales, productivity, retention, employee satisfaction…”

Also, personality testing certainly isn’t anything new in the workplace. Most famously, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been in use since the early 1900s and doesn’t seem to be fading much in popularity. It’s estimated that somewhere around 10,000 companies, 2,500 colleges and universities, and 200 government agencies still use the Myers-Briggs in the U.S. today, including the majority of Fortune 500 companies.

We at SAP Litmos recently participated in a soft skills training on communicating with different personality types, led by our excellent Chief Learning Officer. It was a very engaging session that used a method similar to the DISC Model of Human Behavior, but added a fun element that associated each of the four personality types with an animal. Systematic, detail-oriented people are “owls.” Compassionate, sensitive people are “koalas.” Spirited, expressive people are “peacocks.” And, direct, results-oriented people are “lions.”

We all took a test to determine which is our dominant type and then discussed ways to more effectively communicate with each of the different types. We had a little fun (as names were named), but also all agreed that considering communication styles is a powerful skill for a more efficacious workplace. The consensus was that training in this soft skill would help us perform better in our teams, as well as with executives and those individuals whom we know less well, outside our teams. It was also mentioned that these skills could be applied quite usefully in non-work relationships as well.

So, as you begin to plan your courses for the second half of 2018, perhaps give some consideration to adding more soft skills training to your catalog. Your people will likely appreciate and enjoy it, and as referenced above, doing so will bring measurable value to the organization.

From my notably biased perspective, we’d of course hope that you use our course library as your source for soft skills training content. You’ll find all kinds of good stuff in there, from personal development courses (such as stress management and creative problem solving) to leadership management (such as motivating employees, and speaking and listening). There are many great offerings to choose from! We hope you take advantage of it and place a newly energized emphasis on the power of people skills.