In today’s fast-paced business environment, having a skilled workforce isn’t enough to guarantee success. Companies invest heavily in training and development programmes to enhance the technical skills, but these hard skills alone are not enough to guarantee success. Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, inclusivity and adaptability are becoming more and more important as the workplace evolves. They are essential for effective collaboration, building relationships and managing change. Having a skilled workforce that is both technically astute and has the skills to navigate the ups and downs of business is crucial.
However, developing soft skills in your employees is tough because they are so personal to the employee. Each one has different backgrounds, learning styles, motivations, and levels of experience, making it challenging to design or find a one-size-fits-all programme. This subjectivity can often lead to a lack of consensus on which soft skills are essential to develop. They aren’t tangible or easy to measure like technical skills either, which can be taught through lectures, workshops, and online courses. Soft skills require a more immersive and interactive approach and employees need opportunities to apply and practice these skills in real-world situations while maintaining psychological safety.
With nearly 30 years of experience, Pilotlight has helped thousands of employees, from graduate level to senior leaders ready for portfolio careers, to develop the soft skills they need for the next step in their development. “This has probably been the most enriching experience of my career so far” is common feedback from participants. How do we do it? Well, let me share our recipe for success.
Meeting employees where they are now
We have a number of programmes, one for each step in the career ladder, but they all bring employees out of business as usual and into a real-life problem outside their comfort zone: using their business skills to help a charity solve a real challenge they’re facing right now. This could be the need to diversify their income and increase the funding they need to help more people; the need to review the charity’s governance and get the board working more efficiently so they can better support their beneficiaries; the need to understanding how to grow their operations so it can harness more volunteers to help. All these challenges can be solved by using the business skills business employees have now into the context of the charity sector, allowing your employees to demonstrate and experiment with their skills and untapped potential.
Everyone’s in it together
Because participants are working on a real-life problem that has the potential to affect thousands of disadvantaged people, they all have to pull together. They are challenged to communicate effectively with the charity, demonstrate emotional intelligence in understanding the charity's needs, and work collaboratively as a team to achieve a common goal.
Each employee brings their own experience and style to the team, and each team is coached by a Pilotlight Project Manager to keep the team on course and all pulling together. This ensures each employee receives the support they need to excel and develop their skills effectively, while maximising the outcomes and impact for the charity
For many employers we work with, they use our programmes as an opportunity to bring people from different divisions within their company together as a project team. This not only enables more diversity of thought within the team but also improves networks, opens up understanding internally and collaboration within the company as well.
In one of our bespoke programmes, we also bring together people with different levels of experience, from recent graduates to senior managers, facilitating different voices and voices, leading to a more diverse and inclusive culture.
These experiences can be invaluable in developing soft skills that are transferable to the workplace.
Our secret ingredient: making a meaningful difference
Not only do employees have the opportunity to develop soft skills, but they also gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by charities and social enterprises. They also play an active role in helping them solve a challenge that will amplify their impact and help thousands of people across the UK. This can lead to greater empathy and a desire to make a positive impact, both in and outside of the workplace. This can go on to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction, which can have a positive impact on retention rates.
We see that the goal to make a meaningful contribution to community brings the best out in everyone, and it’s this that helps embed their learning back to business as usual.
Stepping outside one’s comfort zone to provide support in a different sector, in a safe, experiential setting, unlocks potential leading to significant learning and development for everyone involved
But don’t just take my word for it. Read some of our participant profiles and learn just how transforming working with Pilotlight can be.