10 soft skills that every IT team needs

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Non-technical skills like communication, collaboration, adaptability, problem solving, empathy, and creative thinking are important in IT teams, according to a study by consulting firm West Monroe. While soft skills are often overlooked in favour of hard technical competencies like AI and RPA, over 78% of HR leaders surveyed were looking for employees with strong soft skills. Communication and collaboration were cited as the two most valued non-technical skills by tech leaders. Other important non-technical abilities included learning ability, critical thinking, liability, and passion.

10 soft skills that every IT team needs

In this article, you’ll learn which non-technical skills are most valued in IT teams, including two must-have “soft” skills that can either make or break your project.

Communication, collaboration, adaptability, and problem solving are so important to success in IT today that some tech leaders have even called them essential employability skills. And despite the demand for IT professionals who know how to deal with artificial intelligence, who know Kubernetes, RPA and other hard skills, it will be more difficult for people with insufficient soft skills to find their dream job.

According to a study by a consulting company West Monroe, more than 78% of HR leaders are looking for employees with strong soft skills. 67% of the interviewed HR specialists said that they rejected a candidate if they were not sure of his soft skills. The team can quarrel, miss project deadlines and generally come to unclear results if the participants only worked on hard competencies and not on their soft skills.

The skills we’ve listed below are essential for any IT team, regardless of industry. And if you yourself are planning to get confused about job search in the near future or have already scrolled through job aggregators, then get ready – you will most likely be asked about your software competencies at the interview.

The Big Two: Communication and Collaboration

When we asked tech leaders about the skills they can’t do without on their team, communication and collaboration were among the must-haves.

“The ability to think creatively and solve problems while working with others is really important,” he says Cassie Rangelsenior IT director at HealthMarkets. “You have to be able to think outside the box and not limit yourself to just programming.”

1. Communication

Communication is quite complex and multifaceted, says Matthew Carswell, CEO and founder JumpModel. “Mutual understanding is extremely important. The ability to convey and understand complex ideas is a mandatory requirement for everyone who joins the team. The ability to influence is necessary for management positions: architects, project managers, senior developers.”

“An IT professional needs to be able to hear and listen to the needs of others in order to find an effective way to solve a problem, to narrate the situation in a way that both a tech-savvy professional and someone with a very general understanding of the task can understand the details,” says Ryan Bacon. IT support specialist JumpCloud.

Strong written communication skills are equally important, Bacon continues. “Entries in application registration systems, e-mails and documentation are all part of everyday IT life. The ability to accurately convey thoughts and ideas in writing will make life easier for all participants in the work process.”

“The communication skills gap in your team is a big problem. It’s not just a nasty little thing,” says Jason David, CEO Software Portal.

“I know it sounds corny, but a team that can’t communicate will ultimately fail,” says David. “I’ve seen too many teams waste time by not being able to talk to each other. Either the project requirements were not properly communicated to the team and the goal was not reached, or individual tasks were not properly explained to employees: someone completed the same assignment twice, and something else was completely forgotten. Or the team does not listen to people who have good ideas, simply because some employees have difficulties with communication. In any case, a team that doesn’t communicate doesn’t perform as well as it could.”

According to Briana Brownell, Founder and CEO Pure Strategy, poor communication can also prevent innovative ideas from seeing the world. “If a team can’t convince executives to buy their work, it’s often less about a lack of real value than about difficulty making the case. If your team is struggling to find a leader who supports your work, it may be important for you and your colleagues to work on your communication skills.”

2. Cooperation

Lone developers may find it harder to find work as collaboration becomes more important on the must-have list of IT professionals.

“Historically, the ability to code was considered one of the most important skills. Lately, managers are recognizing that software development projects are best completed when a team works on them, rather than a single individual,” said Al Sene, VP of Engineering DigitalOcean.

Michal Abram, Senior Director of Engineering at ResumeLab, believes that collaboration is especially important when team members are working remotely.

“While a developer can simultaneously fix 404 errors and write code at a breakneck pace, they need to be able to play as part of a team,” says Abram.

“Working together often means taking a step back and acting on the direction of another team member. Or become a leader and take the initiative,” says Mike Gilfillan, lead developer at Edge of the Web. “Knowing when and how to step in or step back can mean the difference between a smooth workflow and a missed deadline, so being able to work with others is an important skill in any IT team.”

Al Sene, mentioned above, advises leaders to reach out directly to colleagues to determine if there is a skills gap on the team. “Take help in developing the soft skills of your employees. For example, some organizations offer training funds so that managers can help subordinates learn “soft” skills in addition to technical ones. Other organizations conduct company-wide trainings or seminars.”

In addition to the previous two, software skills are no less important:

3. Learning ability

“The desire and curiosity to learn is especially important because technology changes so quickly. Developers should strive to stay abreast of the latest trends, adapt to the new, and constantly evolve,” Al Sene believes.

4. Creativity

“Creative leaders can take a big business problem and imagine a technical solution, or they can brainstorm different scenarios and come up with new solutions. It’s a surefire way to build a team that can work well together and see the big picture.” — Tim Christensen, CTO SocialChorus.

5. Acceptance of facaps

“You will make mistakes very often at work. How do you deal with it? Admit your mistake and move on? Will you try to hide the failure, get along, defend yourself? Not being able to deal with the fact that you’re not right suppresses your ability to solve problems,” Matthew Carswell emphasized.

6. Liability

“Accepting responsibility for your work and your mistakes shows that you are willing to learn and grow. Responsibility is an excellent quality for both ordinary employees and leaders of IT teams. Teams that lack these soft skills often don’t work well with each other or with other departments.” – Al Smith, CTO iCIMS.

7. Critical thinking

“It is the ability to think in an organized and rational manner in order to understand the connections between ideas and facts. It allows professionals to make balanced decisions, which often depend on the success of important projects,” – Katzper Bzozowski, technical founder of the company Zety.

8. Empathy

“There is one key soft skill that IT teams need: the ability to share personal stories. Getting to know each other leads to empathy, empathy leads to trust, and trust allows colleagues to brainstorm, argue, laugh, and discuss ideas in a safe environment. The result is an increase in efficiency and effectiveness.” – Barry Molin, author of the book “Connect! How to quickly establish cooperation for success in business and life.”

9. Flexibility

“IT specialists need to adapt on the go. It is also important in order to always be aware of new technologies and to be able to solve problems that arise in the process of work,” said Sean Ferrell, CEO of the company Managed Solution.

10. Passion

“I don’t care how old or young the employees are. The difference between great and mediocre in the tech sector is passion — and you shouldn’t waste yourself on someone who doesn’t.” — Matthew Carswell.

From the editorial office

The positions and places of work of the respondents are current as of the date of writing the original article.

For leaders who want to improve their “soft” skills, on May 19, 20, 27, we will hold an intensive on soft skills and management. You can learn more about intensity at our website.

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