In times of great change, strong communication skills are essential. Here's why – and how to develop them
3 soft skills IT teams need in 2021
Want a more engaged and productive IT team that's prepared to overcome unexpected challenges? Focus on communication, collaboration, and adaptability skills
Soft skills are critical to building a high-performing team that can meet challenges like the ones we all faced in 2020. As CIOs and hiring and managers increase their focus on non-technical skills, including emotional intelligence, for the post-pandemic work environment, investing in upskilling your existing workforce is a great way to ensure that your IT team has the communication, collaboration, and adaptability skills it needs for success.
The ability to create and nurture professional relationships is more valuable than ever in a world where most of our interactions take place online.
Communication feeds into all the other core soft skills organizations need today, making it perhaps the most important one to focus on. This is especially true if you’re working with a limited training budget because the payoff can be great.
The good news: You don’t need to go far to go the extra mile. Allocate a budget for reading resources and communication courses on platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare. Their cost and accessibility make them an ideal way to get started.
[ How do your words stack up? Read also: 8 powerful phrases of emotionally intelligent leaders. ]
In the tech sphere, communication skills are often overlooked and perhaps underappreciated. But any digital project your business undertakes requires strong verbal and written communication skills to make sure everyone understands their role and expectations. Poor communication could waste more than time and money – it’s also a barrier to innovation and can harm your business in the long term.
On a management level, strong communication skills are critical to get buy-in from the C-Suite and to provide your employees the support and compassionate leadership that, as we’ve seen in the last year, are essential in challenging times.
[ Is your team exhausted? Read our related story: Remote exhaustion: 13 tips to reduce fatigue. ]
Collaboration and communication go hand in glove, so this is a natural area to focus on next. Collaboration is the key to sustained business growth, so if you want to stay ahead of the competition and win new clients while continuing to delight existing ones, your team needs to know how to not only work together, but how to do so efficiently and at an accelerated pace. It’s important for employees to be able to work with peers and key stakeholders alike, particularly in a remote setting.
Effective collaboration entails self-awareness and diplomacy as well as flexibility, adaptability, and leadership skills. Investing in improved collaboration skills via in-house workshops or team-building activities and tools pays dividends later – it opens fresh opportunities for employees to learn from each other and share knowledge, which enriches your entire team.
[ How does your EQ stack up? Read also: Emotional intelligence test: 5 self-evaluation tools for leaders. ]
The ability to pivot and overcome the unprecedented challenges we faced in 2020 saved countless jobs and enabled organizations across the globe to survive. In the fast-paced world of tech, investing in your workforce so they can help you adapt to unexpected change is investing in the future of your business.
Technology evolves at breakneck speed, and any valuable IT professional is always looking to learn and stay current. Your IT team must be equipped to respond immediately not only to any technical issues that arise but to industry changes that may impact multiple departments.
Embrace learning — in your team’s area of core competence as well as outside of it. Allowing time and budget for your team members to learn more about your industry as well as those around it will make them more adaptable and better prepared to tackle new challenges. Give them the support they need to do that, and you’ll be rewarded with a more agile team that gets the job done to the highest standard when it matters most.
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]