The Issue 
Soft skills can be hard, both to learn and to teach, but activities such as building relationships, working in teams, coaching and influencing are vital for the success of any business. 
Richard explains how the programme came about: “Infineum is a science-based technology company, and we recruit high-quality colleagues from the top universities here in the UK but also across the globe. They have a minimum of a science degree, with most having PhDs. This is typically their first job after completing their academic studies, and we give them high-value and complex project activities. But they generally haven’t had any formal training in soft skills – they have had to pick them up as they go along. I and my colleagues in the leadership team recognised that there was a gap in our training provision. We had excellent technical training and we had leadership training, but we didn’t have anything to help colleagues with these key soft skills – we just left it to chance. And the programme we created with The Red Thread addresses that gap.” 
The Personal Effectiveness programme was developed in collaboration with Infineum, a global speciality chemicals company. Now the suite of 13 tried and tested modules is available to the wider corporate world.  
Originally designed to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation’s new graduate and postgraduate starters, the whole programme needed to speak to a diverse and geographically scattered audience located in the UK, US and Asia. It has therefore been designed for effective online delivery and takes a blended learning approach, using videos, questionnaires, self-paced workbooks and online workshops to ensure the self-study elements are understood and applied. 
A key focus in creating the modules has been to build them on recognised behavioural theory. Rather than recommending solutions, they are designed to help learners develop a range of skills that can be applied to many business situations. 
The individual modules are grouped under three core areas: Efficient Projects, Individual Impact and Delivering Value.  
Red Thread Partnership director Adrian Spurrell explains: “The workbooks are central to every module. They contain reflective and active exercises that draw on the learners’ current experiences. So they aren’t just theoretical learning exercises; they enable learners to practise as they go.” 
Richard Durrant, global technology manager, is the senior leader at Infineum who partnered with The Red Thread in developing the programme. The Infineum-branded materials now sit on the company’s learning management system (LMS) as an essential part of their people development strategy. 
Richard adds: “I am delighted with the difference the programme is making in helping to maximise the potential of our primary audience. We are investing in our colleagues, ensuring that all of them can benefit, irrespective of their location or cultural background. And teaching our new graduates these skills is like adding an extra person (or more than one) to every project team.” 
Richard firmly believes that the programme can now also benefit people in other organisations, and he is happy to see it extended. Adrian adds: “The modules in Infineum’s programme are aligned closely with who they are and what they do. But the content could be adapted for use by any organisation, of any size, and for participants at any stage of their career.” 
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