Of course it’s important for IT pros to have top-notch technical skills and to stay on top of the ever-changing trends in the space, but there’s more to the job than pure knowledge. You have to sport some people savvy too and too often that’s where you fall short.
If you’re wondering what kind of skills you might need, you might start with the list the Mary Shacklett posted on TechRepublic recently, what she calls a list of essential soft skills. If you read the list, you’ll see things like having political smarts, knowing how to conduct yourself at a meetng (similar if you ask me) and being team player.
In short, these are skills that most companies look for from all of their employees. That we have to point them out and make a special list for IT say that perhaps IT has gotten away from the people and group cooperation skills we all started learning about in kindergarten.
That’s because IT folks tend to be a bit nerdy, introverted and not very social. It’s probably part of what makes you good at your job. I don’t have scientific proof of this by any means, but I can speculate that if you want to get down and dirty in the technical details, it may be because you are naturally lacking in the people skills department.
That’s fine as far as it goes. Most organizations want people to play to their strengths of course, but they also want you to work on your weaknesses, so if you’re having trouble playing nicely with others or explaining something conceptually on a level mere mortals can understand, maybe it’s time you worked on this a bit more.
When you’re at a meeting explaining to the group why two systems aren’t working well, and you start to see everyone’s eyes glaze over, you can be pretty sure you’ve gone too deep into the technical weeds again and it’s really time to step back. It’s a matter in some cases of just being self aware.
In other cases, it may take workshops or classes to help you become more socially savvy across different areas.
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.
At any rate, it can’t hurt to at least try.
What do you think? Am I unfairly stereotyping IT pros or are do you tend to lack people skills?