Building Leadership and Other Transferable Skills

Meeting complex training needs through the learning platform

The shelf-life of technical skills is shrinking as a result of technology and automation. At the same time, transferable skills such as leadership, negotiation and communication are in even higher demand. Companies are striving to build and maintain these capabilities within their organisations, but many may find this a challenge because the so-called ‘soft’ skills aren’t taught in the same way as technical and other skills. Training content plays its part, but so too does the scope for learners to try out their skills, reflect, and receive regular input and feedback as they progress.

Meeting these training needs requires programmatic learning, an approach which enables continuous learning experiences. To deliver this, learning platforms must offer a range of features and capabilities for interaction and the application of learning.

Convenient training at scale

For some time, learning platforms have provided an ideal way to train potentially large numbers of employees who may be geographically spread. They’re convenient, because learners can study at any time, they make ‘bitesize’ learning possible and they can support a range of formats such as video to engage learners.

For L&D departments, the learning platform centralises training and this can help maintain consistency and quality of content and make it easier to measure results across the company.

Different types of training

Learning platforms support a range of training types:

  • Mandatory training such as health and safety is likely to be very structured, draw on fixed content and provide specific proof points to show that everyone has completed it
  • Technical skills training will be similarly knowledge-based and may incorporate instructional videos for clear ‘how-to’ demonstrations
  • ‘Soft’ skills training that build interpersonal and other skills equip employees to handle a variety of situations to get results and drive the business forward. Training for these skills – which should really be thought of as ‘durable’, rather than soft – and assessing learner progress, is more complex.


To build durable skills, learners still work through written and other types of content, but they have to apply their knowledge to build competency – it’s very much a case of learning by doing. Feedback is essential to the process and is most valuable when it reflects a range of views – not just course instructors and line managers, but peers and others as well.

Programmatic learning: more than just content

For the learning platform to enable this type of training it needs to do more than just deliver content. It should:

  • Support interaction and collaboration so that learners can try out their skills and learn from others. Tools here include discussion groups, video assignments and peer reviews
  • Incorporate techniques that motivate and engage such as gamification which rewards and recognises good learning behaviour and the achievement of milestones
  • Ensure learning is applied by checking understanding through quizzes, other tools and enabling practice in real-world scenarios
  • Integrate feedback into the learning journey. Feedback should be at the right time, in the right way and from a range of stakeholders. This can be video based, through annotations on assessments or via audio. Whichever form it takes, feedback should be convenient for reviewers and detailed for learners
  • Enable course creation by not just regular platform users but also experts within the organisation whose knowledge is important to share within the business.

In this way, the learning platform supports action-based programmatic learning journeys that take a 360-degree view of employees’ development. Employees are able to learn over time, hone their skills, receive feedback and take their learning forward.

To build durable skills, companies need comprehensive training programmes that can deliver ongoing learning and not just one-off events. The learning platform, through a range of features and capabilities, can help L&D departments deliver this type of training within the framework of a single, measurable learning system. 

About the author – Alan Hiddleston:

Alan has been a senior sales leader, advisor, and investor in a variety of Learning and Talent Technology companies for the past 10 years, ranging from global brands like Lockheed Martin to innovative start-ups. Fanatical about innovation, Alan always delivers valuable and practical insights into what does and does not work in HR technology, frequently sharing his thoughts as a prolific speaker and blogger. Today he leads D2L EMEA’s Corporate sales sector where he helps companies maximise their most valuable asset: their people.

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