Most businesses see tech training as a tool to solve a specific problem, like teaching developers a new framework to deploy in an upcoming project. These newly acquired technical aptitudes build toward the universal goal of improved engagement, efficiency and productivity. However, many businesses don’t know to anticipate some unexpected but desirable bonuses of training — the soft skills that are acquired and bolstered alongside the tech skills learned.
Here are a few examples of how tech training implemented to solve short-term problems also develops soft skills with long-term benefits for both organizations and individuals:
Remember how great it felt when you first learned to ride a bike or mastered a new recipe? Picking up a new skill is a positive in itself, but the real joy in your “Ah ha!” moment is that you did it yourself with your own hard work. Then there’s the flip side; feeling so intimidated and discouraged by a project you’re not sure you can handle — like riding a unicycle or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time — that you can’t bring yourself to try it.
For example, a new developer may be conscientious in their work but lacks confidence in their level of expertise. This dev may see a potential problem in a project but doesn’t feel experienced enough to speak up about it. Providing that person with a learning tool would empower them to brush up on the knowledge deficiencies they perceive in their tech stack, and to gather the self-assurance needed to share their thoughts with the team. That developer is also better positioned to mentor new team members in the future.
Checkmate is a digital agency that uses Treehouse as the foundation for their internal training. (Check out this recent post for more information about them.) What’s cool here is that a significant number of their employees who use Treehouse don’t work in technical departments. The skills they’ve learned have expanded their personal skill sets and, more importantly, created a better dynamic across teams.
This scenario may sound familiar to you; an Engineering Team is starting to lose patience with a Project Manager’s inability to understand the work they do and thus, establish realistic deadlines for their tasks. Training that manager in the fundamentals of the team’s tech stack and developer tools like GitHub could make a world of difference in fostering camaraderie and more effective communication between teams and management.
Problem-Solving, Troubleshooting & Innovating
Striking a balance between prioritizing bugs and building new features is tough. With the limitations of time and resources, a team of developers can only take on a certain amount of work. What to do when a project’s requirements and timeframe for deliverables ask for more than what the existing dev team can deliver?
The good news is that most organizations have more talent to solve this problem than they realize. Consider the members of a Support Team; they’re problem-solvers and great communicators with more direct exposure to a product’s customer experience than the engineering team could have. How much more valuable could Support staff be if they could troubleshoot and resolve their own customer tickets, or build a small improvement to your product with code? In addition, few things spark employee engagement like investing in their professional development, empowering them up to earn a promotion down the line.
Soft Skills: An Investment That Pays Off Twice
When you improve confidence, communication, and problem-solving skills for just one individual, the positive impact extends to the rest of their team. Think about multiplying that ten or hundredfold and how your entire organization can reap the benefits. Training isn’t just an investment in improving a company’s skill pool; it’s an investment in a sustaining employee culture built on learning, innovation and trust.
Matt Krzyzynski is a Customer Success Manager at Treehouse and spends his days helping businesses build scalable training plans and providing advice on learning best practices.