Five Soft Skills that Should be Present on Every IT Team

Posted

3rd December 2020
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one are the days of expecting the Engineering or Development teams to work away in their own little bubble and the “lone-wolf” developer is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Tech teams are mixing and collaborating with other departments on projects more and more, and they form an integral part of many if not all, companies as we move towards a ‘digital first’ world.

The role of soft skills

The demand for technical knowledge and ability will always remain high for IT teams. Still, a hiring manager’s dream is someone who has a robust array of soft skills and demonstrates them in action regularly.

The value placed on these skills has led to calls to rebrand them as ‘Core Skills’ and for them to be prioritised ahead of pure technical ability during the hiring process.

Research has indicated that more than three-quarters of HR leaders have become more focused on finding technology employees with strong, soft skills and that 67% said they’d withheld a job offer due to a candidate’s lack of soft skills.

What exactly are soft skills?

And what are the difference between them and hard skills?

Hard skills often refer to teachable abilities or skill sets that are easily quantifiable. These skills are typically learned through training or on the job.

Unlike a hard skill, soft skills are non-technical and are subjective and harder to quantify. Often known as “people skills”, sift skills relate to how you work with others, solve problems, communicate and interact with those around you.

Looking through many of the briefs we’ve been working on recently, a lot of what makes each opportunity so exciting require the candidate to possess a number of the most in demand soft skills:

‘Encouraging environment where ideas are listened to.’ – Communication, Emotional Intelligence
‘Chance to evolve as an Engineer.’ – Active Learning, Problem-solving
‘Camaraderie and a very sociable team.’ – Communication, Emotional Intelligence
‘Looking to learn new technologies.’ – Active Learning
‘Amazing technical team pushing boundaries’ – Problem Solving, Creativity

Gaps in soft skills in a team can lead to trouble among its members and can lead to friction, a breakdown of daily tasks and missed deadlines, something no team wants.

Read on for the five soft skills that should be present on every IT team.

Communication

With technology underpinning almost all aspects of modern businesses, tech professionals are working alongside their non-technical colleagues at all levels of the business. As such, it’s essential that tech professionals can clearly explain the technical complexities of a project to their colleagues in other teams within the business.

Having both verbal and non-verbal communication skills matter. Tech professionals need to be able to actively listen to their colleagues to formulate the proper solution to a problem.
Those that are able to do so, as well as convey the details to a non-technical audience will be more approachable and help them build rapport with others.

Equally, poor communication can also prevent innovative ideas seeing the light of day if they’re unable to communicate the business case to key decision-makers. If this is the case, it could be that this is down to a communication problem rather than a lack of value in their work.

Creativity

New technology is entering the workplace all the time, and the way in which we work will require new ways of thinking and adapting to the tasks at hand – we’ve seen this already in 2020.

Working to a bigger picture, coming up with new solutions and being able to brainstorm ‘what if’ scenarios are vital traits of successful tech professionals. Having people with a creative mindset and who are open to new ideas and solutions in their teams is therefore, an important asset for leaders to have.

Emotional Intelligence

It’s true that developers and engineers no longer work on their own code inside their own bubble; they need to listen and work alongside their colleagues, empathise with them and use their input to their advantage.

Having a team who can control of their emotions and can connect with co-workers, take their emotions and points of view into consideration will allow for more effective collaboration across the team, department and business as a whole.

Getting to know each other leads to empathy, empathy leads to trust, and trust allows teams to brainstorm, engage, argue, laugh, and discuss ideas to develop solutions to a problem.

Those with substantial levels of emotional intelligence will be ideal for IT teams and will be in high demand in all workplaces.

Active Learning

Having an eagerness and curiosity to learn is a real benefit to tech professionals, and great tech teams should be full of those with these qualities.

The pathway of any developer or engineer demands continued learning and curiosity. The technology used by developers today is changing at a rapid pace, and the best are continually looking to improve and develop new technical abilities as well as themselves.

Having a team with a growth or hacker mindset, who are curious and persevere in their desire to get to the bottom of a problem is crucial as it demonstrates the additional value your team will bring to your company.

Critical Thinking

Having the skill and desire to identify solutions and offer up solutions is extremely valuable to team leaders and businesses. Being able to think critically and get to the root of the is an important skill to have for all tech professionals as it allows them to make rational decisions that affect the well-being and outcome of their projects.

Leaders should look for those who have developed the skill of effective problem solving and who can approach problems by identifying existing assumptions and resources. These team members will understand the best method to approach a problem with as well as being able to identify the issue and quickly adapt to solve it.

The importance of soft skills should not be underestimated.

Everyone can become well-versed in soft skills, and developing them over time has shown to boost productivity, efficiency and support decision making.

All soft skills are future-proof, and their importance cannot be overlooked as a leader when hiring for your team. Adding talent to your teams that demonstrate the key soft skills, along with having solid foundations in the required technical skills, is fundamental to success. It’s therefore vital that you look for these qualities and characteristics in potential candidates and think about how they will perform in your team.