Leadership

10 highly valued soft skills for IT pros

Today's IT pro needs both technical expertise and soft skills -- that's nothing new. But the scope of those in-demand soft skills just keeps growing.

Editor's note: This article originally published in July 2012.

Depending on which company you talk to, there are varying demands for IT technical skills. But there is one common need that most IT organizations have: soft skills. This need is nothing new. As early as three decades ago corporate IT sought out liberal arts graduates to become business and systems analysts so they could "bridge the communications gap" between programmers and end users. And if you look at the ranks of CIOs, almost half have backgrounds in liberal arts.

So what are the soft skills areas that companies want to see in IT professionals today?

1: Deal making and meeting skills

IT is a matchup of technology and people to produce products that run the company's business. When people get involved, there are bound to be disagreements and a need to arrive at group consensus. IT'ers who can work with people, find a common ground so projects and goals can be agreed to, and swallow their own egos in the process if need be are in high demand.

2: Great communication skills

The ability to read, write, and speak clearly and effectively will never go out of style -- especially in IT. IT project annals are filled with failed projects that were good ideas but poorly communicated.

3: A sixth sense about projects

There are formal project management programs that teach people PM methodology. But for most people, it takes several years of project management experience to develop an instinct for how a project is really going. Natural project managers have this sixth sense. In many cases, it is simply a talent that can't be taught. But when an IT executive discovers a natural project manager who can "read" the project in the people and the tasks, this person is worth his/her weight in gold.

4: Ergonomic sensitivity

Because its expertise is technical, it is difficult for IT to understand the point of view of a nontechnical user or the conditions in the field that end users face. A business analyst who can empathize with end users, understand the business conditions they work in, and design graphical user interfaces that are easy to learn and use is an asset in application development.

5: Great team player

It's easy for enclaves of IT professionals to remain isolated in their areas of expertise. Individuals who can transcend these technical silos and work for the good of the team or the project are valued for their ability to see the big picture. They are also viewed as candidates for promotions.

6: Political smarts

Not known as a particularly politically astute group, IT benefits when it hires individuals who can forge strong relationships with different constituencies throughout the company. This relationship building facilitates project cooperation and success.

7: Teaching, mentoring, and knowledge sharing

IT'ers able to teach new applications to users are invaluable in project rollouts. They are also an asset as teaching resources for internal IT. If they can work side by side with others and provide mentoring and support, they become even more valuable -- because the "real" IT learning occurs on the job and in the trenches. Central to these processes is the willingness to share and the ability to listen and be patient with others as they learn.

8: Resolving "gray" issues

IT likes to work in binary (black and white). Unfortunately, many of the people issues that plague projects are "gray." There is no right or wrong answer, but there is a need to find a place that everyone is comfortable with. Those who can identify and articulate the problem, bring it out in the open, and get it solved are instrumental in shortening project snags and timelines.

9: Vendor management

Few IT or MA programs teach vendor management -- and even fewer IT'ers want to do this. But with outsourcing and vendor management on the rise, IT pros with administrative and management skills who can work with vendors and ensure that SLAs (service level agreements) and KPIs (key performance indicators) are met bring value to performance areas where IT is accountable. They also have great promotion potential.

10: Contract negotiation

The growth of cloud-based solutions has increased the need for contract negotiation skills and legal knowledge. Individuals who bring this skills package to IT are both recognized and rewarded, often with highly paid executive positions.

About

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...

111 comments
pdcgimpy
pdcgimpy

As a highly skilled IT pro, soft skills is nothing more than a word that unintelligent people use to justify their lack of knowledge in said field and project their shortcomings onto the professional.  Let's say you have a nuclear reactor engineer.  Do you want him to have skills in taking the client out for pizza or do you want his skillset to reside in his profession which keeps meltdowns from occurring?  Being smart and intelligent and talking to these people is not always fun.  They spent a lot of time to acquire the knowledge to get them to this point. The fact that you cannot keep up is why they are here in the first place.  As the old saying goes, either Lead, follow or get the F out of the way.   Especially if you do not have the skills to keep up. 

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

The problem with management today is they know nothing of neuroscience. We inherit the framework of our brain. (You may want to consult "Hardwired Behavior" by Dr. Laurence Tancredi, "A User's Guide to the Brain" by Dr. John Ratey and "Your Natural Gifts" by Margaret Broadly.) Those prewired with these supposed "soft skills" and are "management" have quite a different brain structure than the highly advanced technologist who has structural visualization with the ability to reason in 5 dimensions. A concert pianist simply can't be tone deaf, yet we have managers who pretend that they can. No amount of training, no classes, no seminars, no boot-camps will ever train the mentally deficient manager types who haven't inherited the capability to comprehend the technical. They ever remain the smarmy posers, even while being pleasantly social. On the other hand, those of us who have inherited the ability are able to take the training, classes, seminars, boot-camps to learn the social / soft skills. It may not be easy, but if one looks at them as just another technological skill to add to the mix, it's all good. Unfortunately, nature triumphs over nurture and successful negotiation in venues heavy with politics requires yet another skill many successful technologists have mastered long ago: Being a chameleon. Let's just say appearances go a long way to deceive people that you are even interested in socializing -- it's temporary until you can get back to the real work for which you are best suited. Next time we should address the skills of ethics and see how everyone fares.

xxing14
xxing14

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mdew
mdew

So much depends on personality and educational background. I can count on one hand the number of professors who were both brilliant & productive scientific researchers AND effective instructors and mentors. I work in a shop comprised of 90% pure techs (as I would call them), who exhibit few if any of the soft skills listed - particularly Items#2, 3, 4, 7 & 8. They're brilliant @ssholes, for the most part. We need *at least* 10% of the team using 'soft skills' to clean up the organizational and operational sh*tstorms the revered brainacs generate. Every team needs an interlocutor or two.

pzelios
pzelios

Those 'soft skills' come with age and experience, the very dis-qualifiers in today's marketplace. There are no tech skills one cannot get up to speed on in any number of days/weeks of classes and seminars-boot camps, especially if coming from the earlier versions. Those soft skills have to be trained, honed and refined over time and a variety of experiences. A concept sorely lacking and lost in today's environment. So the question is, just how highly valued are these 'soft skills' and by whom?.

seven2seven
seven2seven

Skills? They are more of 'attributes' one should have on TOP of technical skills after working for a dozen years...it should be the natural progression; otherwise you are one dimensional tool capable of executing given tasks.

MajorGood
MajorGood

The problem with this list is none of this is IT specific. These are all business soft skills and have nothing to do with IT. You average run of the mill PM has most of this but doesn't have a clue about anything technical. All of these listed skills are pretty worthless when it comes just making it work

MusicRab
MusicRab

"7: Teaching, mentoring, and knowledge sharing" Not much of that about when I last worked worked at a large s/w house. Get your own task list done was top pty and sharing knowledge was bottom, if it was there at all. Shame really. Used to be fun.

Matthew Moran
Matthew Moran

First.. did they rehash an old article. The article date is May 31, 2013 but comments date back to 2012? Oh well. I'll bite. It is interesting watching some I.T. professionals bash soft-skills and ridicule those who focus on acquiring both. I want both! I want to know that I can throw a developer into a meeting of business users and he can and will empathize and speak their language - not articulate everything in technology terms. I refer to this as "Concept Driven/ Process Savvy!" Perhaps because I cut my teeth in technology more in a user department than in an I.T. department. In fact, I'll contend that it is simpler to teach someone to be effective as a technologist if and when their business acumen and communication is stronger. But it is far more difficult going the other way. In fact, I often recommend I.T. pros work in a user department or small business as a great way to round out their skillset. When I work with I.T. groups, departmental immersion is one way to make their I.T. group more business-centric and user focused. These aren't simple catch phrases.. they are the talents that make I.T. perform better. That is my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

arjunathakur
arjunathakur

At the beginning of career in IT, technical skills do matter a lot. But, as you grow and move to higher positions you are supposed have good soft skills as well. This is because, you are indulged in communication with people of different deparments, customers, end users etc. So, soft skills are must for a tech person if he/she wants to move higher postions in an organization. That doesn't mean you don't need technical skills at all. You must have good high level understading of the technical details of the assignments.

awadhar
awadhar

While we agree with the writer of the benefits of these skills, but i think its impossible to have them all. There are always different types of abilities that a human can have.

ccalcut
ccalcut

Where can you learn these skills? They are not normally taught in school or a technical reference guide.

andrew232006
andrew232006

I think too many in IT get a bad reputation for trying to explain technical things to people with no technical background. Unfortunately in many cases the ones being explained too are higher up the ladder and outnumber the IT personnel.

StevenDDeacon
StevenDDeacon

You can not be an effective Team Player unless your role(s) have been clearly defined and established. When contributing to a project this is of utmost importance. Collaborative Application Lifecycle Management strategies emphasize this criteria so you, as a player, know what your deliverables are, and when they must be provided to meet timeline project projections.

WayTooSerious
WayTooSerious

Funny how there's always TEN items in lists of these types of things.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

That Executive Ability (arguably the real root of this discussion -- for we describe a list of what Executives should have and try to apply it to IT Technologists) is the direct product of being able to lie convicingly and effectively to manipulate others. Dr. Kang Lee's study showed that children have to have developed Executive Ability by age 5 or they are seriously handicapped from having a future career and Managers, Directors, Vice Presidents, CEOS and Presidents. It's silly to natter on about what Executive Skills a technologist should have, when the only thing that matters is successful lying. And not to put to fine a point on it, the skills of Executives differ considerably from Technologists. Would I lie?

Satur9
Satur9

Technically biased people can do these to varying degree; however it can piss us off when you expect us introverts to have, let alone want extrovert 'skills'. I have a smattering of these social skills for social interfacing and self-defence, but find using most of them an annoying and perceptively time dragging distraction from the use of my much more interesting Technical Skills. Meetings can easily bore me and send me to sleep, partly due to Political posturing, delegation, waffle and tangents; have a manageable agenda, get to the point, and keep it brief! 1. Techs should try to ensure that Sales and Managers don't set stupid requirements, timescales or deadlines. 2. Techs should must be able to see and review specs., and say what can and can't be done. Note: writing specs. can be much harder/slower for Techs and they should only be expected to act as support for discussions with customers; anything more is a bonus. 3. Management, so little to do with Techs. 4. Getting just a Business Analyst to do this is nonsense for modern UIs, that is if you can even afford a decent Business Analyst! You need a UI/Graphics Designer with social skills and a prototyping tool. 5. This can be hard work, and quite distracting and time consuming. Promotion to what, I've seen zip? Promotion seems mainly aimed at management and sales, where many are promoted to the level of their eventual incompetence! Techs are often poorly supported, or not at all, in this regard! 6. Not politics, good enough social skills and cooperation; where feasible. 7. Career Politics, given the emergence of Outsourcing, although some snippets of information can be safely exchanged. 8. Career Politics, given some people messed up, possibly due to management or sales incompetence; that is why it is a Grey area. Just assign someone competent and with enough authority to fix the problem, and publish the cause, effect and solution without assigning blame, unless caused by gross incompetence. 9. Outsourcing is firmly in management territory; let them manage the uneconomic mess they caused, so they realise it should be insourced. 10. Management and Legal territory; it is only up to IT to specify restrictions/requirements.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Over a decade ago, Weyerhaeuser set up a dual track program between managers and technologists, recognizing the fact that they were truly separate tracks, requiring totally different skills. This meant that a technologist didn't need to go into management in order to continue growing salary. It was a sound and reasonable solution to keeping the best of all worlds. And where is this initiative today? A main business was sold off, the IBM Mainframe went away, project management was all but abandoned, services were outsourced and the dual track system was scrapped. One of the Directors (who was behind the IBM Mainframe) claims the Mainframe is coming back. I think he's delusional. And the CEO is running for political office. See? It's a perfect world, with everything in equilibrium.

jfwerle
jfwerle

All the things you write, Mary, may be true; but, as one of those developers who has moved into Business Analyst and Project Management roles, I would just like to say that an excellent developer is worth his weight in gold on a project. Fine by me if he/she gets paid more; he deserves it - sitting in that cubicle all day fighting poorly designed development tools. Let there be some of all kinds in IT, because we each have different apptitudes, and each is required for a successful project.

daphne.jeffries@us-egi.
daphne.jeffries@us-egi.

The goal is to be aware of these (great list) soft skills and stay committed to learn and improve.

tbostwick
tbostwick

Great article and certainly warrants the conclusion in the subject of my email... Round of applause all around for all!!!

pepaf
pepaf

One person gifted the combination of global soft and technical skills, bringing the solutions in speed of the light and able to be 24/7/365 on-line to help technically weaker people. It's not you? So what are you doing in IT? It's a sad but true story of today real IT. Question is why non-ITs aren't expected the same?

nickc
nickc

I would encourage all the "yeah-but'ers" to take a look at their current station within their career. You can and will hit the ceiling no matter how good your tech skills are if you ONLY have tech skills.

jbaker.it
jbaker.it

This IS a big deal to me. Keep the conversation flowing.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

I kept the customers happy and kept their lives as happy and joyful as possible within a completely dysfunctional environment. This did not set well with management who did not care about the customer. I am reminded of the IBM Mainframe Field Engineer who put in some extra time and effort to help the customer. The customer was very happy with IBM as a result. IBM called the Field Engineer on the carpet because they expected to [i]sell[/i] the services and weren't happy losing money. Since what the customers wanted was optional, they wouldn't have paid for it anyway: IBM trying to sell something the customer wouldn't buy and criticizing the FE for doing it is a lose-lose proposition. In the end, I was forced into retirement in which things are going very well. Back at the ranch, the systems I maintained are degrading badly and the experienced people are leaving as quickly as they can. This might not make much difference, except it's all about running Payroll / Personnel and Budget / Finance. It's a race: Will the system fail completely before they even finalize the new vendor package selection (after 2 years of the selection process)? Will the sheriff's deputies go unpaid? Will the county be unable to process all the financial transactions. It's quite a gamble: High management concept against the realities of technology: Politics being used to solve technological problems and technological solutions being employed for political gain. Anyone want to make any bets?

ardjo70
ardjo70

The choice is back on each individual or personal. I just remember my former IT Director ever mentioned that "you may able to managed 100 computers or network, but, I don't believe you able to manage even one sub-ordinate". What my former IT Director said it's true, and I think all those soft skills in this article is very relevant with his message.

domsrq
domsrq

Most don't have them because they stuck their face in a computer screen for how many years due to low self esteem and a fear of socialization. Find me a good tech with great soft skills and I'll hire him on the spot. "Spoofers" ?? That's exactly the know it all, cocky, nerdy, socially disconnected attitude that demanded an article like this to be written in the first place. Most IT guys need about 5 years of "people" training. I lead a Help Desk of 12 and I look for people that are into other things besides software, hardware, networking and computers as a hobby. 3 play guitar, 1 guy is a bodybuilder and another paints. And they are all either married or have girlfriends. "Spoofers"...that's funny !

ThatOtherApple
ThatOtherApple

1: Deal making and meeting skills "Deal making," means accepting, "1+1=2.5" "Meeting skills," mean not telling the person who, "feels," 1+1 should = 3 that they're an idiot. 2: Great communication skills "Great communication skills," are useless when confronting the manager who needs 1+1 to = 3 in order for his or her metrics to look good at the Friday meeting. 3: A sixth sense about projects The sixth sense is never named, because it is missing in 99% of all projects and their managers: COMMON SENSE. 4: Ergonomic sensitivity This is MBA-speak for the ancient programmer practice of eating one's own dog food. Nothing new here, but it just exposes the utter ignorance of today's IT crowd (not the show, "The IT Crowd," which is brilliant by comparison) 5: Great team player What if the team is comprised of idiots? Is one supposed to be a great idiot? 6: Political smarts Project cooperation? Okay - if you have to have political smarts to obtain project cooperation, you're working in a company that is in a death spiral. Plainly, they have no interest in self-preservation, but preservation of their silos. RIM comes to mind. 7: Teaching, mentoring, and knowledge sharing Translation: All that time you spent after work, on your own, in the middle of the night, weekends, training yourself, trying to make yourself better for no pay or recognition but just to learn... yeah, that time... well, turn around and give it to the suck-a$$ who spends more time wiping his or her nose after pulling it out of the boss's posterior. (don't worry, they spent all that time convincing your boss that you're, "difficult") 8: Resolving “gray” issues A gray issue is also known as: scope creep, lack of management backbone, lack of any kind of definition, lack of any analysis. Most projects are, "gray issues." 9: Vendor management Do we get any of the pay of those... oh, what are they called again... "Purchasing Managers?" 10: Contract negotiation Do we get any of the pay of those... oh, what are they called again... "Lawyers?"

EJC05262
EJC05262

Consider the downsides: 1. Consensus is not necessarily the best answer. Committees can turn a great thing into a good or adequate thing. 6. Political smarts sounds like a solution to a symptom, not the core problem. This skill is used to balance personal interests not business interests. 10. The key to technical people within a contract negotiation is the ability to clarify technical points into clear language - the talent lies in knowing what not to say and preventing scope creep when the sales people start adding features. Positives - 2 & 4. Communication is the ability to (a) talk to a specific audience in its language (I spent over 20 years translating between Medical, Programming, Bureaucrat and Accounting in an environment where everyone thought they spoke English) and (b) transfer concepts and information in a clear, unambiguous manner without allowing assumptions to twist the message. ("Hope and Change" is in an example of a message fraught with assumptions) 4 &8. As you go through life you will notice awkward systems that were designed by people you never had been exposed to real people over the counter or who never noticed how many variations there are in normal behavior. They never realize that systems have to accommodate the C-K Interface as much as possible. If there are two common ways of doing something, the design has to accept the third one as well. College courses that are essential: 1st year accounting (learn the concepts and terms) Business Communications/Public Speaking (acquire skills, don't be afraid)

tom4587
tom4587

These are skills EVERY professional should develop by varying degree based on their specific career. The fact is that nobody is good at everything. IT pros have their strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else in the organization, but given the disruption that’s going on inside so many IT departments today, it may take a bit more effort to build up those people-oriented skills. http://www.real-user-monitoring.com/its-not-just-about-tech-knowledge-for-it-pros/

sksallaj
sksallaj

The reason why the scope for IT professionals keep growing is simply because businesses don't want incompetent business guys who don't know anything about IT. Lots of companies lose tons of money on some guy who claims he knows things about IT and has business background, but then realize they made a poor decision, so they try not to make the same mistake. So the next hiree will suffer a long interviewing process, will get paid a lot less, and doing a lot more by proving that he's capable. Now it's come to the point where IT managers are going to be hiring people who are better IT managers than they are for a sub-standard position. Now articles like these are telling me businesses wants more than us worrying about performance issues, setting validations, having a superior wealth of knowledge, understanding different problem spaces, etc etc etc. They are basically telling us that we need to do their job so they can go higher up the ladder and make them look good. Just keep doing what you're doing and when luck hits you, you'll get your job. If not, then whatever.

Stan.Williams
Stan.Williams

but these used to be skills a good techie was supposed to have. Back in the day - before all the specific degrees, nice titles and certifications we all came from highly diverse backgrounds. We were mastering technical skills along the way but it was all counted for naught if we couldn't figure out how to work in a group, be politically correct, negotiate and mentor junior members of the team. What you are talking about is a renaissance movement. You want to return to the day when you looked for and employed a person technically fit enough to do a good job but someone that still spoke English and could remain sensitive to a deadline and budget. Of course, those things can't be outsourced. I agree with the good answers before me, you can't separate the two or you end up with some useless half wit mutant.

Stan.Williams
Stan.Williams

but these used to be skills a good techie was supposed to have. Back in the day - before all the specific degrees, nice titles and certifications we all came from highly diverse backgrounds. We were mastering technical skills along the way but it was all counted for naught if we couldn't figure out how to work in a group, be politically correct, negotiate and mentor junior members of the team. What you are talking about is a renaissance movement. You want to return to the day when you looked for and employed a person technically fit enough to do a good job but someone that still spoke english and could remain sensitive to a deadline and budget. Of course, those things can't be outsourced. I agree with the good answers before me, you can't separate the two or you end up with some useless half wit mutant.

WayTooSerious
WayTooSerious

Technical people with these soft skills are really only necessary in environments with bad management and environments where the project managers are spoofing.

maszsam
maszsam

A person wtih all those skills is probably demonstratively superior to most other management. I have a degree and experience in accounting as well as business management but focus on application development now. I work for myself and run my own company. Any one with all those skills should really consider doing the same: You don't need less able people holding you back. 24 hour on call, hostile attitudes and pressure from people who haven't a clue, makes for a low quality of life. Figure it out, take a chance and go for it..

derek.lauber
derek.lauber

From reading this thread, it seems as though everyone basically agrees, “soft skills” are important. Even if the technical professional or manager is not proficient in every skill, they are still capable of learning and practicing to improve their soft skills. Organizations should encourage and help their technical talent develop these skills in order to become better-rounded technicians and business professionals.

allendendy
allendendy

HR & middle mgmt always want a "TEAM Player", but just ask them how their TEAMs are organized and how they operate and just watch the blank stare that they give you. The "TEAM Player" term is usually just something added to a position profile so that the Company can appear to be trendy.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Some of these are interpersonal skills all professionals should have, but today's current management types only want clones of themselves, but better, with the ability to solve their technology problems AND do their work, while being paid a lot less. Oh and yeah, if it doesn't work out, there's always outsourcing to India and now China. Management is necessary and managers used to be competent professionals, but we've descended into a crop of 11 year olds of the type responsible for the 2008 worldwide financial meltdown (with the excuse -- and you can see this in "Inside Job": Nobody stopped us!). Children playing at being professional, making the lives of professional technologists unpleasant and nearly impossible. It's time for a massive change, and if management doesn't fix the problems in itself (aptly described in "Moral Mazes" and "The Management Trap"), they will find themselves out of business in a slow slide of entropy.

RMSx32767
RMSx32767

Each manager is different and you must tailor your approach. Some managers expect your approach to be on your knees, head bowed down, in deference to the superior wonderfulness that infuses their (lack of) personality, management ability,and technical "chops". Regardless of how well you get on with your peers, clients, etc. your boss will make, or break, your career at that company, so you best learn quickly if the boss must be the only light in the room.

Computer Dave
Computer Dave

As is the importance of proofreading... [I]The ability to read, write, and speak in clearly and effectively will never go out of style[/I] Gotta love an article about business communications that has a glaring error :D

munsongeek
munsongeek

It sounds like some in this thread are saying soft skills aren't important. I always thought they were part of doing my job correctly, in addition to extremely high technical skills. I also expect anyone I hire to have these other qualities. (as well as extremely high technical skills) I also believe that non-technical employees that have good soft skills and use technology as part of their job (like a call center or data entry) need to stay up to speed with new technology. If they say "I'm computer illiterate" they don't belong. They need to be re-trained if they are required to use a computer as part of their job. Their "good soft skills" will enable them to see the importance of the new training. My boss is admittedly technically incompetent, (he's really not) but he's not I.T. That's my job and my department's job. After looking at this list, I feel that my company is on the top end of the game. I believe that soft skills should be a huge part of any highly valued I.T. employee. A person with these skills would also be compensated more because of it. [i]Follow this link for an article at Techrepublic regarding this: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/when-should-you-stop-valued-employees-from-walking-out-the-door/5025750?tag=content;siu-container[/i] The overseas outsource companies have the ability to do technical jobs, but how much better is it to employ a highly motivated local person that cares enough about his/her position (or your company) to possess these skills and be an ambassador for you? Those that believe that soft qualities have little value would benefit by seeing it in action. I think it's just good ol' fashioned work ethic.

csimpson
csimpson

It is certainly ironic that the first sentence makes no sense, has an unneccessary long hyphen, and that the second sentence is missing the word "were". Really "speak in clearly"? "The ability to read, write, and speak in clearly and effectively will never go out of style — especially in IT. IT project annals are filled with failed projects that were good ideas but poorly communicated."

v r
v r

This article has prompted many excellently written observations. Highly valued project managers and business analysts have a thirst for understanding the challenges of IT world as well as the challenges of the line(s) of business with which they work. They must always exhibit respect for the people in both areas, however wacky the statements may seem to be. The better the listening skills, the more likely one is to get to the root cause (business issue OR IT issue). These skills may be difficult to quantify, but they are usually exhibited in the person's precision in communication. The more precisely PMs and BAs express the business problem(s) to be solved, the stronger the IT solution.

daniebr
daniebr

Good list and I agree. Having the soft skills helps IT maintain a better image as well. I always find myself looking for that proper balance of soft skills and technical skills.

CrimeDog
CrimeDog

I would agree that the ability to effectively communicate across departmental and company lines is crucial. In fact, although Better Communication Skills is #2, it could be argued that they are necessary for #'s 1, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10. As for a 6th sense of project status - I can't buy into that concept. Granted there are people who can intuitively see the inter-relationships in a project - and PM's who can't. So, how do you quantify that capability? If such innate abilities exist, without the 'credentials' of a PM they will never be exercised. I do not disagree with the need for team players and political adroitness. However, in too many organizations "team player" becomes confused with "inter-changeable parts" and the idea of "taking one for the team" becomes expected (worn THAT t-shirt!). As for political smarts - those who play in that arena often get caught up in "the Great Game" and devote most of their work day to furthering their causes.

avikaye
avikaye

Meeting skills are vital - not just for IT’ers, but for anyone who has ever needed to participate in a meeting (which is everyone :)). Making sure that the meeting stays on track, and that decisions are made, not just postponed to the next meeting, are what you need to ensure that your meetings are productive, and that ultimately, goals are met. And of course, in every meeting there’s some measure of give and take, whether it’s listening to other people’s opinions, or deferring to a different set of priorities - at the end of the day, it is what’s in the best interest for the project, or the company, that really matters, and of course, making sure that the meeting decisions are followed up and acted upon. Using a tool like MeetingKing makes it far easier to manage the meeting’s flow - from agenda to participants to tasks and decisions, so that when you DO decide how to move the project forward, you also know exactly what has been decided and who’s taking ownership of those tasks.

JohnOfStony
JohnOfStony

The thing most lacking in my experience is documentation. The ability to write accurately and coherently, to understand spelling and grammar, together with the ability to explain things to those less technical or less experienced is what is most needed among IT people - and also people in general. To single out IT as needing particular skills is good but it should be mentioned that IT is not the only profession which is lacking in some of these skills. The majority of journalists, in my opinion, could do with taking a course in the correct use of English with particular emphasis on grammar and spelling. After that last remark, I had to go back and ensure that I had made no spolling mistooks!

gr
gr

Hi, Those skills are important for any professional not only IT as Suresh Mukhi mentioned but the biggest mistake made by managers when they are looking for them is trying to find all of them in one person. After more than 15 years professional career and more than 5 years management experience I'm quite sure that this person doesn’t exists. So in my opinion the point is to try to build a team(IT or not it doesn't matter) which includes people having one or two of those skills plus technical knowledge.

ThatOtherApple
ThatOtherApple

especially if you're technically incompetent. But, then again, who needs technical competence when you have the Indians just an ocean away? You can always cleverly outsource, "all the hard stuff," to them. You know, hard, technical stuff, like... setting up an account in AD or managing the VoIP system or writing the code for an iPhone app (or a military drone - meh, what's the difference?) You know, the stuff we don't want to worry our pretty little heads over. Who cares, anyway? You've got those soft skills to talk your way out of anything, right? So, go ahead, wrap this noose around your necks. Take the leap. Your (technically incompetent boss) will love you for it.

BigIve
BigIve

Fix global warming, feed the hungry, free the oppressed and solve the energy crisis. And why not invent chocolate that cures cancer and makes you slim! This is a wish list that would be great for any member of any team to have - not just IT. How many team leaders and business managers have more than a couple of these skills? Most of these soft skills are badly served across all business disciplines with only a few stand-out people able to deliver anything like half of these. As for the CIO's, what exactly will they be doing whilst IT pros are bridging the gap? Is this not exactly what they are paid to do? Using those powerful and invaluable skills that they learn from their background in liberal arts? Most people want IT to make their computer work. Simple really. They need IT guys who can deliver technology in a robust, stable and progressive manner. This requires IT guys with IT skills first and foremost. Great if that person can have all these soft skills, but realistically most real life tech people work hard enough with the tech. I'm sure there are a few marvellous people out there who can do all this and I hope they are getting all the recognition and benefits they deserve. Mostly IT teams need a variety of people to focus on skill-sets.

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