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Democratizing Soft Skills Development – One Prompt at a Time

Article Source: SmartBrief

AI machine learning

You don’t have to look far to find an article or warning about the half-life of the workforce’s current capacity and the urgent need to upskill, re-skill, and pre-skill workers to future-proof both their careers and their organizations. It seemed like hyperbole when just a couple of years ago, the World Economic Forum predicted that half of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. But, given the pace and unpredictability of change, this is quickly becoming our reality. And this reality is not lost on employees. Gallup research finds that 48% of American workers indicate they would switch to a new job if it offered skills training opportunities.

Soft Skills

With today’s focus on digital transformation and the proliferation of technology, many surmise that the skills required for success now and into the future will skew in that direction. But, counterintuitively, seven of the ten most necessary skills as identified by the World Economic Forum are what we commonly refer to as ‘soft skills.’

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Creative thinking*
  3. Resilience, flexibility, and agility*
  4. Motivation and self-awareness*
  5. Curiosity and lifelong learning*
  6. Technological literacy
  7. Dependability and attention to detail*
  8. Empathy and active listening*
  9. Leadership and Social Influence*
  10. Quality control

Of course, anyone who’s tried to learn – or teach – the asterisked skills above has discovered the hard truth about soft skills. They tend to be the most challenging to develop. They also tend to be the most important to long-term success. We might hire for technical or functional expertise, but it’s these human skills that engineer career resilience and endurance over time.

Acquiring these critical skills, however, has only become more challenging for some as a result of pandemic-inspired social distancing as well as diminished interaction resulting from remote and hybrid work. In fact, some organizations are resorting to unusual strategies, like sending employees to charm school.

Unfortunately, many leaders don’t have the resources for such creative solutions. They must produce results on a budget, at scale, and at the speed of business. They might be able to arrange for training (which is an essential element of the equation), but skills like listening and influence don’t suddenly manifest, fully formed and elegantly executed overnight. They require attention, application, intention, reflection, and coaching… things leaders (particularly those who are not co-located with team members) may struggle to support.

Enter generative AI, a leader’s unexpected soft skills development partner. Used strategically and with care, large language models can serve as a powerful thought partner, behavioral nudge, and even coach to those committed to developing new skills.

How it Works

After employees receive a baseline of learning around the high-impact soft skill (an understanding of what it is, why it’s important, and how to execute it in a way that aligns with the organization’s culture and business outcomes), they turn to AI for reinforcement. Simple requests posed to ChatGPT or similar tools can spark in-the-moment opportunities to plan for, reflect upon, and evaluate key skills. Here are sample prompts based on the World Economic Forum’s seven top soft skills.

AI and chat gpt

  • Creative thinking: Suggest 3 ways I can bring greater creativity to my role as a XX today.
  • Resilience, flexibility, and agility: Provide a 5-item assessment that I can use at the end of the day to evaluate and reflect upon how resiliently, flexibly, and agilely responded to the challenges I faced in my role as a XX.
  • Motivation and self-awareness: As I start my day filled with XX, what question should I reflect upon to deepen my sense of self-awareness?
  • Curiosity and lifelong learning: What specific behaviors could I practice today in my role as a consultant that would build greater curiosity?
  • Dependability and attention to detail: Tell me a story of when a lack of dependability or lack of attention to detail resulted in very bad outcomes.
  • Empathy and active listening: In my role as a XX, what can I do today that will let others know I empathize and am actively listening to them?
  • Leadership and social influence: Create a 10-item self-assessment that will help me evaluate and improve my leadership and social influence as I execute my role as a consultant.

Try a couple of these examples out right now. You’ll be surprised at the richness and relevance of responses. Prompts like these generate responses that – while not always perfect – offer a low-cost, scalable way for employees to own their learning and keep key concepts top-of-mind until they become second nature. This kind of technology-supported approach democratizes soft skills learning. It expands the reach of busy leaders and, because of an employee’s self-directed efforts, it enriches the quality of coaching conversations.

Are you ready to use AI to enhance HI (human intelligence)? New support for the most critical skills employees need today and into the future is just a prompt away.

This post originally appeared on SmartBrief.


Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay.