Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer for cloud-based IT resource specialist, Cranford Group, is Vapour’s latest guest blogger. Here she explores whether there’s a secret formula to the perfect tech team…
Every leader strives towards having the full package when offering customers the very best service, meaning HR departments and hiring teams can spend a huge amount of time finding the right fits for their organisations.
An all-encompassing tech team builds out a business’s IT architecture and networks. It knows how to deploy a new software release with ease and can talk many different coding languages.
But, as cloud services and technology become more user-focused and intuitive – and many traditionally repetitive tasks turn to automation via machine learning and AI – this has led to a shift towards the importance of being ‘human’.
Soft skills are playing more of a vital role within a digital team, and those who overlook the personalities and characters that can drive success, will set themselves up to fail, regardless of the amazing tech that the business possesses.
A recent study by leading management consultancy, McKinsey & Company, reported that in ‘the workplace of the future’ there will be a huge increase in the need for three skill categories by 2030:
- Social and emotional/soft: As machines release employees to do more ‘meaningful’ work, these human traits make people effective in their roles.
- Higher cognitive: Critical thinking, advanced literacy, and the ability to research and analyse statistics, are all tasks that someone with this function can do with ease.
- Technological: IT and digital skills, data analytics, developers, engineers, and emerging technology experience all fall under this category.
So, for this blog, let’s focus on the soft skills – and the six most powerful ones to drive a tech team forward.
Unfortunately Millennials get a hard rap when it comes to this. The younger workforce are digital natives, but it has been well-documented how many can often struggle to communicate face-to-face – 40% are lacking soft skills according to recent reports – because they are more used to online interaction.
But communicating strongly in a team has a wide-reaching effect, and impacts on every other skill in the following list.
The ability to use the appropriate language for different stakeholders, negotiate with several departments, and ensure feedback is constructive – and egos are left at the door – is all part of individuals expressing themselves in the best way, to positively motivate those around them.
Having the confidence to provide solutions in a clear and concise manner, whilst showing respect for other people when they are talking, showcases overall, strong communicative skills.
The clue here is in the word ‘team’ – an acronym of this being ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ – as this is the essence of collaboration.
Yes, people are great as individuals, but the real power in business comes from assembling a group with varied strengths, in order to supercharge success.
Being able to collaborate effectively alongside mixed and diverse characters is a key soft skill. A team could have a wide and varied demographic, encompass on and off-site resource, or be made up of contractors and permanent workers, but if they can all work cohesively, they can deliver the best possible outcomes.
With the need to be user-focused and provide the greatest experience and products for end users, employees should be able to show they care and understand how others feel. Those who are empathetic towards customers interacting with their product and services can build strong relationships from the get-go too.
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. A little empathy makes the in-house environment a much better place.
Digital disruption! The team should live and breathe change as new technologies, ways of working, software, hardware – and everything in-between – burst onto the scene at a rapid pace. Those who fail to adapt or don’t see change as an opportunity, rather than a chore, will ultimately struggle.
Employees who want to upskill can also play a vital role in helping to tackle the global shortage of tech talent. By educating themselves to further understand emerging trends, a new software platform or cloud migration, this can provide huge benefits both on an individual, and operational, level.
On a mental health note too, taking up development opportunities or formal training paths can empower staff, and make them feel incredibly valuable to their firm.
Many enterprises now exist with a flatter organisational structure than previously, and are moving towards a more agile approach – enabling the self-management of teams who are all focused on the operation’s overall outcomes.
A person with a natural flair for leadership will be self-motivated, interested in business development and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Within a successful tech team, these leaders should be capable of painting a strong picture of where the business is going and the utopia that exists, at any moment in time.
Effective collaborators should also be confident when helping others to visualise how they can consistently tweak and update projects in-line with the ever-changing market requirements too, and lead teams towards success – before their competitors do.
Strategy, planning and future results – what drives a team positively? This final soft skill covers the employees who possess vibrant, engaging ideas that are essential when helping businesses to stand out from the rest.
Some creative suggestions might seem a little ‘out there’ or off the mark, and others will be nearly spot-on and just a little tweak will be required. However, the point is to build an environment and culture that allows people to feel comfortable enough to voice and share their thoughts – organisations empowering their staff can be hugely attractive to top talent, too.
A popular interview question for many years was, “tell me when you used your initiative in a situation?” It’s time for employees to forget that, and instead divulge the details on how one of their ideas can improve the world!
Having a complete team boasting technical and soft skills is no mean feat, but personalities and certain character traits should not be overlooked when recruiting the best talent needed to push forward an organisation. A group eager to disrupt the industry positively, work collaboratively and keep embracing change can be a huge advantage in the sustainability of a tech business.