Recently, I had sort of an 'oh, yeah!' moment. While working with a client's IT department, it was pointed out that one IT person in particular was helpful but not great at communicating. This got my brain working on ways to help this person relate and communicate better with users, and what better way to do that than soft skills training? Funny enough, some of our clients actually provide this kind of training. However, it is usually a part of workforce development for people transitioning out of the criminal justice system. So why are soft skills so important for ex-offender going back into the workforce, but when it comes to technology professionals it is considered acceptable to not have these fundamental skills?
It’s becoming more and more evident that when it comes to IT professionals, ‘soft skills’ are not only generally lacking, but also that the business community is increasingly demanding these skills in the IT professionals they hire.
And for good reason…
What are Soft Skills?
The term ‘soft skills’ refers to things like the ability to work in a team environment, the knack for effective communication and a talent for being helpful and courteous – even the supposedly smaller things (like the ability to show up on time) qualify as necessary ‘soft skills.’ These are skills that IT professionals often struggle with – and now’s the time for improvement, probably more than ever.
In today’s business environment, IT professionals are required to wear a variety of hats, and more so than ever before. At the same time, IT training is almost entirely focused on technical skill development, without regard for the development of interpersonal skills, common and quite necessary in all forms of contemporary business.
From the social services perspective, one could state that those reentering the community after serving time for criminal activity lack these same soft skills.
So, overall, both the need and demand for soft skills are high.
Soft Skills with SmartWave
SmartWave works with our clients’ IT professionals to develop these soft skills. How? By training IT professionals to view the IT problem and solution from the user’s perspective.
IT users are concerned that they can’t do their jobs; they’re concerned because they have pressures and deadlines – and not to mention any stresses they’re dealing with in their personal lives on top of everything.
So our objective is to train IT professionals to communicate effectively by teaching them to see what’s happening from the perspective of the user. Users want to have notice before a major change is implemented. They want to know what’s changing and HOW it affects their day-to-day activities so they can adjust accordingly.
The Difference is Value
The value is noteworthy and company-wide: when IT professionals develop these soft skills and effectively communicate, they’re rewarded by receiving praise for the great work they’re doing, without the commentary on the lack of soft skills, especially poor communication. Users feel they understand the forthcoming technological improvements and can plan ahead, and IT professionals receive relevant feedback regarding the IT work, without being bogged down by communication complaints.
Really, it’s win-win.
Here are some tips from the nice folks at Tech Republic.