98% of CEOs report instances of a disconnect between what a role entails and what their employee can offer.
The employee's technical skills are fine, but their soft skills are lacking.
Future Fit author Andrea Clarke once told us she'd love to see "a Master's degree in human skills" taught across universities and schools.
"I do think that is the one thing that's missing from our conventional schooling," she told us in an interview. "It is understanding and mastering those skills that will make us disproportionately advantaged in our careers."
So here, we’ll introduce you to social-emotional learning, which covers communication, problem solving, creativity and innovation. These are crucial skills to be productive, engaged and contributing members of a team.
We'll discuss why it’s crucial in the workplace and how you can incorporate social-emotional learning within your own teams.
What is Social-Emotional Learning?
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a process in which people develop a spectrum of soft skills vital for success in professional and social settings. These skills translate across the workplace, school, and within interpersonal relations.
Self-awareness, empathy, discipline and communication skills are all examples of having strong social-emotional skills. When we practice these skills in our everyday life we become better at handling day-to-day stressors, manage everyday workloads and effectively communicate with others.
As Stephen Covey says, “People are social beings… and social learning is the primary form of learning, just as word of mouth is the highest form of advertising.”
Why Is Social-Emotional Learning Crucial For Workplace L&D?
A Leadership IQ study recently found that 48% of new hires fall short within the first 18 months of starting a job. Clearly the organisation's onboarding could be to blame, but the study suggests that 89% of these employees failed because of a lack of soft skills (22% of this number struggled to deal with and manage emotions).
Strong social-emotional learning (SEL) skills within the workplace contribute to a stronger company culture, and more engagement and job satisfaction from staff.
Simply put, when individuals have a better grasp of their own emotions and behaviour, they have more of a capacity to better understand others, manage challenges effectively, and maintain positive relationships.
4 Ways to Incorporate Social-Emotional Learning Within Your Team
Here are a few ways your organisation can implement social-emotional learning (SEL) within your team and workplace:
1. Have a Stong Mission & Vision Statement
It may seem a little left field, but ensuring your organisation's core values are set in stone, along with a clear business strategy, can help you more effectively track KPIs and guide any social-emotional learning (SEL) changes you make for your teams.
Strong social-emotional learning (SEL) skills often impact on business strategy indirectly through general productivity and engagement. Tracking performance on the key soft skills can help your organisation steer towards its goals.
2. Practice Empathy
On average, people get along better with others with whom they can share a genuine connection with. This starts with understanding another’s perspective as to why they made a certain decision, or allowing employees to better understand where you’re coming from.
Empathy is shown to be one of the 10 qualities that successful leaders share in common.
3. Share Decision Making
When a team feels more involved in workplace decisions it makes employees feel heard and their opinions valued. While employees won’t necessarily make any major decisions, gathering opinions will make them feel a part of the process.
This instills a healthy workplace environment that focusses on actively listening to employees, what they want, and what they need. Try to create a pyschologically safe space for employees to feel comfortable in voicing opinions - especially those counter to the rest of the group.
4. Implement The Right Training
Implementing training programs that teach social-emotional learning (SEL) will help build an employee's soft skills. Usually, training should cover areas like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Implementing such training helps build these skills over time. Here are some areas SEL tactics can help improve:
This is the first skill associated with social-emotional learning (SEL). Having self-awareness means we are able to correctly recognise our own emotions, thoughts and values. This means we can grasp our own strengths, and limitations, have more of a sense of confidence, and have an accurate sense of self.
Simple exercises like regular check-ins, performance reviews, or asking for reflections and learnings are all great ways to recognise and build an employee's self-awareness. Note: We have an event on self-awareness you and your team can attend in 2023 with author of Vertical Growth Michael Bunting.
Self-management builds upon self-awareness and reflects a learner's ability to regulate thoughts and feelings in a range of situations. This may be shown through effective stress management, impulse control and self-motivation.
Social awareness is the ability to empathise with those around you. This may be having the ability to pick up on social cues, practicing empathy and understanding, and expressing gratitude. It may also mean one’s ability to strive show eagerness to take on new opportunities.
Relationship management is the ability to maintain healthy, positive relationships with others. This may mean having good communication skills, being cooperative, listening to others and having the ability to mediate conflict.
Tactics in building and maintaining relationship management in the workplace may be practicing role play, training in client liaison, and taking part in team-based activities.
How Can Leaders Implement Social-Emotional Learning?
Here’s some easy ways to implement SEL activities into the workplace:
Role play doesn’t always seem like fun at first, but it’s an effective way for employees to learn key concepts by acting them out as real life scenarios.
For example, if you’re teaching someone how to present a client meeting from start to finish, you understand that it can be a daunting experience for the learner. However, a role play scenario allows other employees or management to provide feedback, and build self-awareness in the learner.
Peer learning indirectly allows organisations to reinvest in their employees while strengthening empathy, teamwork and company culture.
When peers teach other, they tend to practice more self-awareness on how they provide constructive criticism, it also builds learning retention, and saves the financial investment of third party training programs.
Gamification uses specific learning tools to enhance the learning experience in a fun way. It uses game elements to educate and engage learners in an attempt to break the conventional mould of learning strategies. It’s a great way to combat boredom or a dip in motivation. It’s one of the best and most effective interactive learning strategies in the workplace.
In fact, it can increase overall engagement and productivity by 60% and 50% respectively.
Coaching and mentoring are one of the most effective ways to build and maintain engagement with employees. It brings insight, perspective and instills a growth mindset in the learner. It also drastically helps build thought habits like introspection, self-awareness, collaboration and communication. It hits all the parts of what social-emotional learning entails.
Build Your Teams Social-Emotional Learning With Our Growth Faculty Pass
Our weekly cadence of learning events includes a lot on soft skill development. We give passholders access to the best speakers in the world on topics like communication, feedback, self-awareness, listening, accountability, and more.
Increase the number of those on your team who hold a 12 month Growth Faculty Pass. When more of your organisation have access to 40 live virtual events, live and interactive masterclasses, podcasts and more from the world’s best leaders, there is no limit to how much social-emotional learning you can build into your L&D schedule.