The days of the isolated, hidden IT department are long gone. Ten years ago, tech teams were something of a mystery to the rest of the organization, emerging to interact only when someone experienced an issue with hardware or software. Today, technology is a driver of business strategy and goals, permeating every aspect of an organization. Effective IT teams must be able to communicate effectively with each other on increasingly complex projects, and they must be able to communicate effectively with every department regarding the deployment and usage of that technology. This is especially true of IT managers who often act as the “face” of the technical group.
Getting Clear On Soft Skills
“Soft skill” is something of an abstract term but generally speaking, they are the personal attributes that allow a person to interact productively with others. They can include any number of traits including, but certainly not limited to, problem solving, creative thinking, critical thinking, verbal communication, written communication, emotional intelligence, collaboration, influence and teamwork.
The specific soft skills required of an IT manager can vary based on the unique requirements of a specific position, but the more of those types of skills a manager possesses, the better.
Why Soft Skills Matter When Climbing the Tech Ladder
In many ways, technology has limited our face-to-face interpersonal communications. In our personal lives, we send text messages or post to social media when we want to interact with friends and family. At work, we don’t pick up the phone and call one another, we send emails or post on company platforms like Slack. However, because it’s so much easier to use technology to communicate and collaborate, the argument could be made that people are actually interacting more often. Therefore, IT managers must be able to make those interactions productive through strong communication skills.
IT leaders must also be able to communicate highly technical information to organizational leaders who lack technical expertise. For example, if leadership wants to invest in a new software platform that does not integrate into the current technology stack, IT managers must be able to explain clearly and effectively the investments that would have to be made in order to facilitate full integration and utilization, and should be able to offer alternatives, if necessary.
Strong soft skills make an IT leader more valuable than someone with impressive technical prowess but weak communication and interaction skills. Anyone wishing to grow their career and become an IT leader must be able to demonstrate that they can handle any number of situations that involve helping the organization get the most from its technology, and that means focusing on building soft skills.
“While technical proficiency is vital in today’s market, possessing excellent soft skills is imperative to motivate, retain, and maximize the efficiency of the employees that you manage. Communication is key, both with your employees and your internal clients,” says Brendan Coghlan, CSS Tec Managing Director.
The key to developing strong IT managers is to hire professionals who already possess soft skills, or possess the potential to build those skills over time. The IT recruiting experts at CSS are industry leaders with a proven track record of helping clients identify and attract tech pros with growth potential. Reach out to CSS today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your long-term strategic IT hiring goals.