Soft Skills are Intangible, So How Do You Measure and Monitor Them in a Digital Environment?

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Soft Skills are Intangible, So How Do You Measure and Monitor Them in a Digital Environment?

It’s odd that we refer to certain skills as being ‘soft’. In a world where strength and power are held in such esteem, ‘soft’ makes them seem less important than their ‘harder’ cousins. Yet, as we’re realising more and more each day, these soft skills are actually really vital, as they’re the attitudes and behaviours that are critical to the development of your organisation.

In a recent blog post, our co-founder Cathy Sivak explored the advantages of xAPI for L&D professionals, and how it means they are no longer limited to tracking progress and scores in a self-contained learning object. Capturing soft skills has historically been difficult in an LMS. It requires the measurement of qualities such as dedication, empathy, creativity, influence and motivation – qualities that are largely considered intangible (hard to quantify, and even harder to assess). However, as Cathy pointed out, xAPI offers the opportunity to track more than just progress and scores, meaning L&D professionals are finally able to consider the bigger picture.

The Intangibles: The Characteristics that Indicate True Potential in Your People

The LMS your organisation chooses should be an effective vehicle for identifying, developing and harnessing its intangibles. Let me introduce you to some of the intangible qualities that are likely to already exist in your workplace. Do you recognise any of the following characteristics?

  • Dedication
  • Influence
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Creativity

These intangibles characteristics are often the true indicators of your champions: the future leaders and achievers that will help your organisation grow. Taking care of staff ambitions and goals on an individual level will undoubtedly make them more likely to remain with you, all the while becoming more and more valuable to you and your organisation.

How Can You Capture The Intangibles?

As I mentioned earlier, capturing soft skills has historically been difficult in an LMS environment. The characteristics we’ve described aren’t called ‘intangible’ for nothing – these characteristics are hard to quantify, and even harder to assess. Let’s break a couple of these characteristics down, and see what behaviours in an LMS environment can be linked to them:

  • Frequently logs in
  • Logs in outside of work hours
  • Completes courses assigned to them promptly
  • Attends workshops/classes regularly
  • Regularly searches in library for related resources
  • Pushes towards rewards at end of pathway
  • Participates in networks and communities
  • Contributes to forums and discussions
  • Publishes content to communities/library
  • Publishes highly-rated content
  • Regularly recommends content to others
  • Curates and shares advocated web content
  • Completes work assigned to them promptly
  • Doesn’t need prompting or reminding to submit coursework
  • Requests further resources to support pathway
  • Completes informal activities and creates their own pathway
  • Pushes towards rewards at end of pathway

From this breakdown, we can see that an individual’s behaviours in an LMS, when identified and categorised, can be tracked and monitored in the same way that their behaviour in the workplace can be observed. But how can we analyse these behaviours? The good news is that, thanks to technologies such as xAPi, we are now able to track less conventional and more informal actions indicative of learning. We can report these behaviours in a collective way, where we can define the behaviours in terms of the digital activities we’ve just explored, then monitor and nurture the people who are demonstrating them.

L&D Managers can now define these successful characteristics based on their vision of what is needed to drive their organisation forward. The digital behaviours that correspond can be mapped and configured to report and analyse the people that demonstrate them.

If you’d like to find out more about measuring and monitoring soft skills in a digital environment (and to discover the intangibles that empower your people), request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

thinqi logo
Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Steve Finch is Head of Marketing and Brand Ambassador for Thinqi, the modern learning system. With a background in customer success and digital learning programme delivery, Steve has been helping organisations deliver effective modern learning for nearly 20 years.