Article: Lack of Soft Skills Holding Back IT Employees: Report


Lack of Soft Skills Holding Back IT Employees: Report

A recent report concludes that a lack of proficiency in soft skills is hampering career prospects for IT professionals, in addition to hampering collaboration at workplace.
Lack of Soft Skills Holding Back IT Employees: Report

A recently released white paper from West Monroe Partners, a business and technology consultancy firm, concludes that despite the high desirability of soft skills in IT professionals, many organizations fail in offering adequate training in the domain. The paper, titled ‘Closing the Technology Leadership Gap’, surveyed 600 HR and Recruiting Professionals and 650 full-time employees who regularly work alongside their company’s technology teams. Soft skills are used to define a mix of communication, social, collaborative and people skills, alongside emotional intelligence quotients that are essential to function ably in a team. The paper defines the same as “communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and leadership.”

Here are some of the highlights from the paper:

  • 98% of HR leaders are the view soft skills are important for candidates who are looking for a job in the technology sector.

  • 67% of the HR professionals admitted that they withheld a job offer from a talented IT candidate due to a lack of soft skills.

  • The most important soft skills are verbal communication and collaboration, according to the respondents. 

  • 43% of full-time employees said soft skills problems negatively impact their working relationship with IT.

  • Collaboration related issues were responsible for delays in projects for 71% of the full-time employees surveyed.

  • A majority of the organizations don’t invest in developing the soft skills of their IT employees. A fourth of the total companies surveyed said that they provide such training to line-of-business employees, but not to technology professionals. 

  • HR leaders view leadership as the least important soft skill for potential IT employees.

  • 39% of the organizations surveyed stated that they do not have anyone with a technology background in their C-suite (such as a CIO or CTO), highlighting the lack of technological representation in leadership.

The report indicates a bit of predicament for HR leaders: it shows that soft skills are desired in IT professionals, but there is a lack of willingness to invest in them. Furthermore, it notes, "HR leaders consider leadership to be the least important soft skill for prospective technology hires which means technology employees often don't ascend the career ladder. The absence of these professionals at C-suite levels usually affects collaboration between business and tech employees.”

Kevin McCarty, President, and CEO of West Monroe said in the company press release, “To stay competitive in today’s digital world, business leaders need to enlist a holistic mindset regarding technologists’ skillsets. Some of today’s best leaders come from a technology background, and we need more of them. To remain on the forefront of innovation, companies need to put their technologists in a position to lead. They also must prioritize soft skills and leadership training as part of continued growth and development.”

The results drive home the point that soft skills aren’t just important in today’s workplace – they are indispensable. The region-specific nature of the paper notwithstanding, the results might ring a bell for many organizations and their IT employees all over the world.  In addition to being good at the job, the quintessential employee of today, in any domain and especially in IT, must be able to communicate and collaborate with others efficiently. The only way to facilitate a smooth collaboration between the technical and non-technical employees is to ensure that both are adequately trained and educated in honing and applying soft skills and organizations must be willing to invest in the same if they want to reap the benefits that accompany. 

Greg Layok, Senior Director of West Monroe’s technology practice, sums up the essence of the paper aptly, “Technologists and full-time employees are collaborating more than ever, and it’s evident this will continue in the coming years. However, communication barriers can still silo these groups and stifle productivity. Businesses must take a two-pronged approach to training - one that not only develops technologists’ soft skills to effectively collaborate with the line of business but also teaches business leaders a level of fluency to understand the technology side.”

You can access the complete report here

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Topics: Skilling

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