It is without a doubt the norm to think of IT staff as the tech-savvy geniuses that they truly are, and mostly only as “techies”. The go-to folks, who speak a language all their own when their special skills are required to create special software, maintain the computer database or upgrade and secure the entire network/system.
They’re usually on call 24/7, albeit not always officially, but most do not hesitate beyond the thought of “he/she is always so crude/blunt”, to call at any hour to resolve from the mundane to the seemingly unfathomable to non-IT personnel.
How then can an organization boost the output of these already very productive individuals?
Improving “soft skills” or as it is widely referred to, the Emotional Intelligence, of IT staff would certainly go a long way to doing just that. Because it is an occupational requirement for IT staff to be technically proficient at their jobs, the opportunities to practice and therefore enhance these “soft skills” tend to be very limited.
By promoting the development of several key areas, an organization can transform its disassociated relationships into synergistic alliances between its IT staff and their customers. Some of these skills include, but are not limited to:
- Teamwork – team building, negotiation and conflict resolution, consultative approach
- Leadership – strategic thinking, management fundamentals, promote an enhanced grasp of business processes
- Empathy through Effective Communication – active listening, knowledge sharing
- Personal Effectiveness – handle stress, time management, improve influencing and selling skills
Another factor to consider is the cultivation of critical thinking skills. IT staff would then be better equipped to provide the right solutions for their customers at the earliest possible time since – the critical thinker must actively clarify goals, evaluate information, decide upon and accomplish actions; all while remaining committed to open communication and considering and even integrating alternative perspectives.
These “soft” and “critical thinking” skills would only serve to complement the “hard” skills the IT staff already possess and in their practice, a deeper understanding of business issues, not just those that are technical in nature, can be achieved and with that, pertinent IT solutions to those issues may be developed.
Any organization that recognizes the importance, relevance and benefits to be derived from an IT department that is accepted and treated as a credible business collaboration instead of just the “tech-support” unit, is an organization well on its way to achieving its goals through highly productive IT staffers.