Soft Skills Communication Training and Development for IT Professionals
From the TrainingZone on Soft Skills Development in IT:
‘More than just geeks – IT professionals need soft skills, too. IT professionals tend to focus on technical and project management skills, but soft skills are just as critical for success says Eddie Kilkelly. IT underpins every aspect of organisational life – and initiatives to improve performance are often technology-based. This is why the ability to deliver successful projects is one of the most important issues facing senior IT professionals. A recent survey1 of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and senior IT managers found that five key factors continue to contribute to project failure. These factors are ‘a lack of clear objectives” (66%); ‘unrealistic deadlines’ (58%); ‘poor communications with the team and/or third parties’ (45%); ‘a lack of commitment from senior managers’ (33%); and ‘a lack of core skills within the team’ (30%).
The common link is people, supporting the Association for Project Management’s assertion that 80% of project failures result from the things people do wrong. While there are different project management methodologies, any project stands a greater chance of success if the parties involved are fully engaged, if they share a common vocabulary and understanding of their objectives, and they can work collaboratively to identify and resolve any issues. A shared methodology helps, but individuals also need to be personally resilient and effective in working with others.
Soft skills training improves competence……
“The most powerful training will be conducted in cross-functional teams, mimicking the actual workplace, and will incorporate ongoing coaching and mentoring support to embed and reinforce the training.”
The IT skills the organisation needs change in line with the adoption of new technologies, so it’s understandable that training budgets focus on technical or project skills development, particularly when training budgets are tight. It’s much harder to define the need for and measure the effectiveness of soft skills training. However, there is a groundswell of opinion that emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management – is the key attribute that bridges the gap between being technically competent to run a project and being personally competent to deliver project success. Therefore, modest investment in soft skills training could save organisations thousands or even millions of pounds in avoidable project failure.
Take a practical approach. IT professionals are instinctively logical and practical and may need to be convinced of the need for soft skills training……
How the training is delivered also is critical. Staff will respond to practical training that helps them hone their skills in dealing with typical responsibilities and interactions in an action learning environment. The most powerful training will be conducted in cross-functional teams, mimicking the actual workplace, and will incorporate ongoing coaching and mentoring support to embed and reinforce the training.
The ‘IT Crowd’-type perceptions of one-dimensional geeks could equally apply to any professional who uses industry jargon and is passionate about what they do. As a former head of IT, I know that IT professionals have the same drive to succeed as any other employee. It’s up to training managers to help IT professionals enhance their competence and performance by driving soft skills up the corporate agenda and empowering IT professionals to develop and utilise those skills. The success of every organisation depends upon it.’