Constant connectivity and growing reliance on technology in business will increasingly require tech professionals to possess a variety of soft skills in addition to their expertise, according to the Robert Half 2019 Technology Salary Guide. Tech professionals must be able to liaise across functions, blending their specialized skills with soft skills that equip them to partner with other departments. In addition, tech professionals need to be quick to respond, and engage well with customers or internal stakeholders when they do.
Tech professionals looking to bolster their competitive edge should strive to cultivate these soft skills:
As organizations pursue digital transformations, tech professionals must be able to think creatively to grapple with rapid change, increases in project volumes and staffing shortages. In addition, many IT projects are aimed at solving business problems or creating new environments, and often require critical thinking.
Professionals who can assess problems and then propose ways to solve them are increasingly valued as IT becomes more integrated with business. Problem solving shouldn’t always be reactionary. Instead, skilled problem solvers look ahead to anticipate potential problems and plan in advance. And, skilled problem solving also means taking the time to understand multiple perspectives and needs before proposing a solution.
Since technology now impacts all aspects of the business, tech professionals must be adept at communicating with a variety of functions, departments, and levels. Strong communication includes professional writing, presentation, and active listening to understand needs.
Communication for tech employees also means bridging the knowledge gap to everyone else in the business, translating complex technical concepts clearly to less tech-savvy colleagues and stakeholders. Few things make people feel more annoyed or insulted than being talked down to, and tech professionals will need to contextualize without condescending. Business and technology work toward the same goal, but the path to the end can be different. Tech professionals need to clearly communicate their own challenges and needs for business-minded stakeholders.
Technology’s integration into all aspects of the business also translates to its integration with all types of people within an organization. Tech professionals need to be able to collaborate successfully with cross-functional teams – and different personalities and expectations. Part of this is an ability to interpret a message (“read the room”) and understand how communication is coming across to the recipients.
Often, technology integration is accomplished through project implementation, and strong project managers must be driving these. Professionals can earn several credentials to improve project management skills, including education specific to information technology in the project management space. In addition, developing a gut check for how a project is truly going helps with overall project management. Experience is a key factor in developing this skill.
While the image of a techie devoted to the precise facts may not be a new one, what is new is the breadth of attention to detail. Tech professionals need to pay attention to details aligning strategy with technology outcomes, manage stakeholder inputs and ensure the details of their technology are received – and understood – by colleagues outside the IT space.
Increasingly, technology teams are dispersed across the globe. Building rapport and working well together requires adept teamwork and collaboration. Location aside, most development occurs in teams, and the ability to work well within the team is critical.
Ask the Right Questions
Tech professionals don’t want to invest time to build or improve a technology that doesn’t really meet the need. Often, this is a result of poor communication between the business arm and the technology arm. Tech professionals need to ask the right questions to understand what the business really needs, and then determine how to get there.
Self-awareness is essential for any professional that wants to succeed, including those in the tech industry. Foster self-awareness by seeking – and listening to – feedback, in both formal situations and informal conversations. Peers can also provide valuable insight, and ultimately improved self-awareness paves the way to understanding yourself better to then understand and interact with other better.
When it comes to continuing education, finding a diverse program can help prepare professionals for a rapidly evolving landscape. Florida Tech’s information technology programs provide a well-rounded curriculum that helps professionals build both the technical skills and the soft skills pivotal for success in today’s complex work environment. Explore Florida Tech’s IT programs by clicking here.