Do Your Team Members Have The Soft Skills That They Need?

Soft skills are critical for team members to have
Soft skills are critical for team members to have
Image Credit:
ILO in Asia and the Pacific

As an IT manager you are counting on your team to get tasks accomplished in part so that you’ll look good to the rest of the company. In order for your team to be successful, they are all going to have to be able to work together. This is going to require a different set of skills from the technical skills that they were hired for. The name for this set of relationship skills is “soft skills”. Do the members of your team have soft skills?

It All Starts With The Hiring Process

If you want to manage a team of IT professionals who all have good soft skills, then you are going to have to take care and make sure that you use your IT manager skills to hire people who have soft skills. The problem in doing this is that we don’t have any IT manager training in how to do it. It can be very hard to determine if someone has soft skills just by looking at their resume. As the labor market starts to become tighter, finding the people with the right mix of technical and soft skills is starting to become harder.

Just exactly what skills should an IT manager be looking for? The soft skills that will deliver the biggest benefit to your team include the ability to communicate clearly, the ability to take initiative when called upon to do so, solve problems, and perhaps most importantly of all, get along with coworkers. The reason that these soft skills are so important for the people on your team to have is because they may hold the difference between a team member who will be a success and one who will just spend time getting by.

Soft skills have always been something that IT managers have been looking for in people that they invite to join their team. However, the type of work that our teams now do has changed over time. We now spend time with customers, sales teams, and vendors from other firms. What this means for the members of your team is that they are now being required to take on broader responsibilities. This in turn is requiring that they have the ability to do critical thinking and show empathy in order to better relate to people.

Soft Skills Are A Critical Tool To Have

One of the challenges that IT managers are facing when it comes to hiring workers who have the correct mix of soft skills is that competition for these sought after employees is starting to heat up. The correct mix of soft skills that a given IT worker needs to have will vary based on the industry that they are working in. These skills can range from having the ability to make small talk with a customer in order to find out what their mood is to attempting to coordinate a project across multiple departments when time is limited.

IT managers realize that if their team lacks the required soft skills, this is going to end up limiting the team’s productivity. IT managers have come to believe that a team member’s soft skills are just as important as their technical skills. The challenge is finding someone who has both sets of skills. This problem appears to span both age groups and experience levels.

It may not be surprising, but IT workers who come from some specific industries seem to have the best soft skills. These industries include restaurants, consumer services, professional training, and retail industries.

A big question is of all of the soft skills that are out there, which ones are the most important? Some analysis has been done and it has been found that the ability to communicate is the most important. After this comes organization, ability to work as a part of a team, punctuality, critical thinking, social savvy, creativity, and adaptability.

What All Of This Means For You

Your career as an IT manager depends on the performance of your team. In order for your team to be successful, in addition to IT team building the members of the team need to have soft skills. This set of skills will allow them to work well both together and with people who are not on the team.

As an IT manager, building a team of workers who have good soft skills starts with the hiring process. It can be difficult to determine if somebody has the soft skills that they need just based on looking at their resume. The set of soft skills that team members must have include being able to take the initiative and solve problems. Soft skills have become more important as the types of jobs that IT team members do has changed over time. A team’s productivity can be limited if members don’t have the needed soft skills. The most important soft skill for your team members to have is the ability to communicate well.

Yes, hiring people to join your team has never been an easy thing to do. However, IT managers need to realize that in addition to the technical skills that team members need to perform their job, they also need to have soft skills in order to get along with everyone else. Taking the time to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills needs to be a critical part of your hiring process going forward.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: During an interview, what would be the best way to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As an IT manager, you need to always be searching for ways to use your IT manager skills to get the most out of the team that you are managing. Your team is made up of highly trained IT professionals and with a little luck, they come in each day and really apply themselves to the tasks that the team has committed to work on. However, as we are all too aware of, our team members need to be careful to not become too overloaded. We don’t want them to burn out. Could a “me day” be the solution to this problem?