Soft skills are hard to find

IT pros are in high-demand, and while some skills such as Big Data analytics and application programming are topping many companies’ wish lists, it turns out the hardest thing to find could be techs with the soft skills necessary to succeed. 

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the biggest skill gaps in hiring were:

  • critical thinking/problem-solving (40%)
  • professionalism/work ethic (38%)
  • leadership (34%), and
  • written communications (27 %).

And according to CIOs Sharon Florentine, there’s plenty of other evidence that the soft skills techs need to succeed are in high demand.

So how can you help develop and improve on tech’s soft skills?

Soft skills starts with listening

One of the best ways to get techs to be better communicators is to emphasize good listening skills. Here are some things for techs to keep in mind:

  • Wait for the question to be asked. Even if you think you know what an issue is, wait patiently while the user relays it to you. If you start offering solutions before they’re done explaining the problem, users will feel like they aren’t being listened to – and it may turn out they’re asking something other than what you thought.
  • Repeat the question. To be sure you’re on the same page, before you start offering solutions, ask for clarification. One phrase you can use is, “So if I understand correctly, you’re trying to … ” This gives one final check that you understand the situation.
  • Get them to show, not tell. Have users show you what they were doing or trying to do when the problem occurred. Most users have a limited technical vocabulary, so these demonstrations can be helpful to let you see how their expected results and actual results didn’t line up.

 

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