*Rachel McElroy is chief marketing officer for technology solutions and services provider, Solutionize Global, Rachel is passionate about maximising customer experience and ensuring the organisation’s quality provision meets every end user’s requirements. As a brand and comms specialist, Rachel delivers high-performing marketing campaigns that celebrate SG’s bespoke service. An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator – especially in the diversity in tech space – commercially-savvy Rachel is a sales enablement expert who crafts tailored messaging to engage and inspire the firm’s wide-ranging customer base, and positively impacts its bottom line.
When striving towards what the ‘complete package’ should often entail for a perfect tech team, thoughts will typically head straight towards technical capability in cloud architecture, networking, AI, security and machine learning.
And whilst all of these are vital for an innovative and digital-first workforce – as well as being much sought-after during a skills shortage in the industry – several organisations need to be cautious to fully appreciate how other personality traits can prove to be pivotal, and of utmost importance in many situations.
These are typically known as ‘soft skills’ and include characteristics – such as decision-making and leadership – that employees should possess. They embody complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity – exactly what an all-encompassing tech team requires when working on its next large innovative project or building out its IT architecture and networks.
However, before delving into this any further, it’s important to underline that there isn’t anything ‘soft’ about these attributes – and they should be referred to as ‘key skills’ instead. Why? Because nothing ‘mellow’ exists in such traits, they actually highlight an individual’s strength and how they empower and collaborate with others. These employees shouldn’t feel like they have a characteristic that doesn’t contribute towards a team’s overall commercial success – it should be quite the opposite, as this Future of Work report suggests.
Having keys skills goes a long way towards staff understanding both new technologies and how such benefits can be communicated throughout the workforce and to the end user. Those who can do this – in a manner that’s collaborative and personable – possess the traits every modern-day tech team needs to deliver successful outcomes.
Enterprises that do focus on key characteristics such as these, make strong choices when it comes to hiring their next addition to the team – the importance is how they’ll fit into the company, rather than what they understand from a tech point of view.
But that’s not to say that technical skills should be overlooked, it’s about utilising a range of attributes so that the organisation becomes more user-focused and intuitive, in-line with advancing digital methods which continue to meet the end user’s evolving requirements.
Looking deeper at the detail to truly define what the advantages to soft – or rather key – skills are, continual learning and development is a good starting point. With many tech enterprises operating on much flatter organisational structures and promoting agile, self-managing ways of working, individuals who are willing to enhance their skillsets whilst on-the-job are a huge asset for their organisations.
Additionally, empowering staff members to upskill, giving them time and plans for personal development and allowing them to hone their natural flair will often motivate them to ‘do more’ as they repay the investment made in them. Additionally, they’re often more likely to have a positive attitude as a valued team player who enjoys empowering and mentoring the next generation.
Those who embrace change – and want to learn new technologies at the rapid rate in which they advance – are also strong advocates for determining commercial success because they’re able to stay ahead of the curve. And from a mental health point of view, offers of development opportunities or formal training paths can make employees feel that they belong and are part of something special.
As agile learners, individuals with key skills can typically communicate well with various teams – from customer service through to technical architects – adapting their language to suit each group. Such employees can also reinvigorate creativity that filters throughout their workforce, as their passion and ability to bounce ideas off others helps to provide a positive, motivated and engaging environment.
In addition, empathy plays a vital role when it comes to understanding the end user’s needs. Putting themselves in the shoes of the person who is trying out the technology – or plugging in an automated solution – can often be the difference between building long-term relationships and seeing a customer move to a competitor. This differential can prove to be pivotal when determining commercial success because, without a loyal audience, a tech firm’s entire enterprise falls flat.
When analysing empathy too, it’s important for business leaders to understand that colleagues all have personal lives, real emotions and problems. As humans, there is a duty of care to be supportive, counsel, and acknowledge that many situations will manifest during working hours. Therefore, people who possess a degree of empathy can make the in-house environment a much better place for both employees and end users.
Going back to key and tech skills – all are imperative when running a well-oiled machine that’s capable of innovating and evolving to remain relevant in a tough, and saturated, marketplace. Overall, the two need to align, and organisations must truly understand when the ‘softer’ attributes should be the focus over operational skills, to enjoy a diverse, motivated and collaborative workplace.