It’s not enough to have rock solid technical skills if you want to succeed as an IT Pro. Develop some of these ‘soft’ skills that are highly valued, and make yourself more valued in your organization:
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 agreements. Those 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 in high demand.
The ability to read, write, and speak in clearly and effectively is necessary everywhere, and IT is no different. Failed projects are often caused by poor communication, and much of the stress in dealing with end users arrives from the same lack of communication skills.
Empathy and Understanding
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. Learn to empathize with end users, understand the business conditions they work in, and design solutions best suited to what it is they need, instead of what you tink is ‘best’ from a purely technical perspective.
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.
Teaching, mentoring, and knowledge sharing
Being able to teach new applications to users is an invaluable skill. If you can work side by side with others and provide mentoring and support, you become even more valuable — because “real” IT learning occurs on the job and in the trenches. Central to this is the willingness to share and the ability to listen and be patient with others as they learn.
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 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.
Few IT or MA programs teach vendor management — and even fewer people who work in IT 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 make sure 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.
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.