Five tech soft skills to invest in for 2020

But the technology industry is at a turning point, and increasingly, the ability to make human connections and manage people successfully is as important as the ability to develop and innovate. Technology and Telecoms is forecast to be the industry most heavily investing in ‘human skills’ through to 2027. With a 21.2% share of the total investment in the global soft skills market, smart technology leaders will recognise that the decade ahead demands people with highly developed human skills.

These soft skills will be essential when collaborating with the commercial side of business to grow, stay ahead of the competition and deal effectively with clients and customers. Forward-thinking organisations will invest in technical people who are clear-eyed about their strengths and weaknesses, who have developed ability to build strong relationships at speed, and resilience in the face of fast-paced change.

Five soft skills to focus on

Whether you lead a tech company, or have responsibility for technology teams, you can invest in your people by focusing training in the following key areas:

Self-awareness – Self-aware people are self-assured people. They make better decisions – quicker. They understand their workstyle to become more productive. Making an in-depth assessment of both ‘self’ and ‘others’ is also a great first step to connecting and ultimately reducing unhealthy conflict, particularly when it comes to clashing introvert and extrovert styles.

Communication – Successful technology professionals will need the ability to communicate expertly with people at all levels in the organisation, from end users to company directors and clients – to be able to listen, understand and explain ideas at an appropriate level. Their communications will be designed for those around them, helping key messages land better. They will know how to influence peers and leaders, to develop higher-value customer relationships.

Problem-solving – In this climate of constant change, enhancements may be needed to existing procedures to deliver an improved product and meet the demands of ever-changing markets. Technology teams will need to be creative and able to invent ingenious ways of tackling projects on the spur of the moment. How many people can honestly claim they’d rather spend hours inputting data, than use that time for working on creative solutions to old problems, or spending real time with customers to get to the heart of issues?

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Teamwork – The idea of ‘community as life’ is coded into our DNA. It’s part of our innate human nature to have mutual plans and goals, which in turn create a sense of the collective. Worryingly, by next year, it is possible that up to 75% of workers will be remote in some organisations. Loneliness doesn’t just make life dull. It has a significant detrimental effect on people, communities, mental health and even the economy. Understanding the diversity of strengths, skills, preferences, work styles, challenges and areas of expertise will be what makes teams and organisation stronger together and able to meet the demands of constant market volatility.

Agility in the face of change – What firms require from technical people will change dramatically over time. New competitors will break into markets; keen, lean, and maximising innovative technologies that haven’t yet harnessed; the threat of mergers and restructures can feel like a permanently looming risk to the familiar world of work that teams enjoy.

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Sure, it’s normal for directional change decisions to come from the top. However this can only work if colleagues have the levels of agility and resilience the organisation needs in the face of change. That’s because change doesn’t happen to organisations – change happens to the people who make up the organisation.

The time to invest is now

Forget the tech stereotypes – they are last decade. The time to invest in human skills for your tech colleagues is not somewhere in your next five or ten-year business cycle: it’s today. If your organisation has ambitious growth plans, the only way to achieve them will be to commit to the development of the people whose work will make it all possible.

Written by Marcus Wylie, head of product at Insights Learning and Development

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