The pandemic proved that it is difficult to anticipate what will come our way. Those who were flexible, open to suggestion, willing to let go of preconceived notions, and ready to risk trying something new handled the crisis with relative composure.
The success of their response was due to heightened “soft” skills, otherwise known as “human” or “power” skills. These skills included problem-solving, adaptability, creativity, communication, interpersonal, leadership, critical thinking, resourcefulness, conflict management, decision making, and stress management. Power skills won the day!
Technical vs Power Skills
So, how are power skills learned?
Traditional training was originally designed to teach technical skills that follow established procedures and protocols. They require consistent application on-the-job.
Learning power skills requires an alternative to traditional instructor-led training. While a basic foundation for power skills can be taught, they require real world application in a variety of diverse social settings, with time to reflect, unlearn bias or misinformation, and develop emotional intelligence.
Learning Power Skills
Highly participative learning experiences can support learning power skills if there is sufficient psychological safety, mutual support, equality, and a growth mindset among the participants.
The participants need to feel that they can speak openly and honestly, without judgment or recrimination; be willing to admit mistakes, so they can learn from them; be open to constructive feedback; experiment with previously untested skills and techniques; and be held accountable.
Peer Learning Groups
It is difficult to provide this environment in an instructor-led class. A classroom or virtual breakout room can work, but only if the participants are assured that instructors won’t be popping in to monitor their discussion. It is easier if the participants meet separately in small groups of five, where they can have an entirely confidential conversation.
Peer learning groups provide the perfect environment for learning power skills. They focus just-in-time on a real world challenge. The foundation is laid through structured discussion and resource materials. On-the-job application and experimentation occur for a month, with support from the group members. Then the members reflect on what they did, what happened, what they learned, and how they will handle future situations.
More Power Skills
At this time of constant unpredictable change, we need more managers and employees who have the power skills to assess new situations, propose creative responses, take calculated risks, and effectively manage the crisis.
Question: Do you need to polish your managers’ power skills?
If so, contact Deb Laurel at The Peer Learning Institute at 608-219-3594.