Social skills training is as important for IT career success as technical training.
Today’s IT professional must master two skill families in order to be successful. The first is technical skills and knowledge. That’s obvious without a solid technical understanding, you simply can’t do the job. The second is an ability to understand, get along with, and influence people. Even though our jobs are indeed technical in nature, the human component is always present and it’s often the most challenging and perplexing part of our jobs.
We may have the technical knowledge to help an end-user, but if they’re angry, frustrated, or otherwise upset, it’s our people skills that allow us first to manage the situation successfully. Then we use our technical skills to solve the technical problem. Not only do our people skills, help us in our one-on-one interactions with our end-users, they also help us deal with organizational politics, how we interact with other people, both individually and in groups.
In the competence/charisma four-quadrant model, you can easily see how people skills (the ability to understand, get along with, and influence people) combine with technical skills to help build satisfying and fulfilling careers for IT professionals. In this model, you can clearly see how people with great technical skills, but limited people skills can be successful in a job, but not in a career. Similarly, the model demonstrates how likeability and other aspects of charisma are not sufficient for career success.
Through social skills training we can learn to successfully navigate the political landscape in the office to gain credibility with our coworkers, our end users, and our bosses, and most importantly, gain their support behind our backs. When you combine outstanding technical knowledge with great people skills, you’ve got a powerful combination that produces great results for your organization, your end-users, and yourself.
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