27 Aug 7 UNEXPECTED SOFT SKILLS, USEFUL FOR A PROGRAMMER’S WORK
In recent years, more and more has been said about soft skills in the context of IT, which is very pleasing because, for a long time, the area of emotional intelligence has been greatly underestimated in IT. Today, this approach is subject to considerable changes, and managers and heads of IT departments see the advantages of building technical teams, including soft skills. The specificity of IT shows how important communication skills and the ability to work effectively in a group are in the daily work of technical teams. However, there are competences that seem unnecessary in IT, but after deeper reflection, you can come to the conclusion that having them makes everyday work much easier. We chose 7, in our opinion, useful and non-obvious soft skills, which are very important in the context of working in IT:
Managing emotions is a skill useful in general business, while playing a special role in the IT industry. Managing emotions, in the most general terms, comes down to interpreting, controlling and regulating one’s own emotions in such a way that they do not interfere with action.
In psychology, the ability to perceive and interpret your own emotions is called insight. It is a necessary skill to work on self-control, not to react under the influence of strong agitation, and to adopt correct interpretations of various situations, not distorted by emotions. In an industry full of challenges, which is undoubtedly IT, there is no shortage of opportunities for tensions, frustration or anger, so it is even more important to control these situations so that they do not have too much influence on the work. A high level of emotional arousal has a negative impact on efficiency, focus and attention, and it is these processes that often determine the success of writing a complicated algorithm or analyzing critical errors in an application.
To put it simply, flexibility is the ability to adapt to a changing situation without incurring high emotional costs. Flexible people find it easier to cope with “the rules change during the game”, so this feature is extremely useful in a programmer’s work. For those who have never been in a situation where the client changed the requirements or questioned previous arrangements when the project was already at an advanced stage, throw a stone first. Such situations in highly principled people evoke frustration and a lot of negative emotions, which most often affects work, while flexibility allows you to maintain the necessary peace, at the same time giving the opportunity to find an alternative when solving problems.
After all, I am a programmer, I need no creativity, you will probably say. And well… at first glance, it’s hard to deny this reasoning, but going deeper, you can see that creativity helps a lot in technical work. Being creative is strongly connected with the ability to solve problems, because people with this ability are able to see reality from a slightly wider perspective than the rest. They see relationships and relationships where they are apparently invisible, so they can find an unconventional solution when classic methods fail. Creative people are masters of workaround, often so necessary when you are faced with a big technological challenge.
This is another soft skill that seems to be completely useless in the IT world. Presentations or speeches are rather the domain of marketing and sales departments, you will think. This belief is losing its relevance today, as it is more and more common for technical people to conduct internal workshops for younger programmers, take part in technical webinars, and prepare presentations for clients. In the era of social media and the trend of sharing their knowledge with recipients, technology companies make great use of the intellectual potential of their IT departments. Therefore, it is worth developing your self-presentation skills in order to feel more confident in such a situation and be able to focus only on the content of what is to be conveyed, without having to worry about the form.
Technology companies are trying to outdo each other in creating incentive packages, bonus systems and benefits, which are not only to encourage people to work in a selected company, but also to maintain a high level of motivation. Such external motivators, which are not an inherent part of a given task, are, however, much less effective than internal motivation, understood as commitment to work resulting from the willingness to perform a specific action, even if there is no “external” reward associated with it. But intrinsic motivation also has its limitations. It happens that even when working in IT is your passion and you do it with pleasure, your desires weaken over time. A constantly dissatisfied client or supervisor who regularly adds responsibilities, projects to “tap”, during which you do not learn new things – these are factors that negatively affect the level of internal motivation. So it’s good when you can recognize this condition and deal with it effectively.
Resilience is simply mental resilience and the ability to adapt to unforeseen situations and to deal with problems. This ability is making a comeback recently, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. It can be said that the last few months have provided organizations, employers and employees with a huge resilience exam that we will remember for years. Mental resilience is a trait that can be successfully developed, which is very good news for people who need to work on it. Although the programmer’s job seems to be very stable, it is not free from the unforeseen, both in technical and business terms. There are applications that, despite the best intentions, turn out to be unprofitable and unattractive for recipients, bugs that “come out” after the software release, or critical projects yesterday, generating a huge level of stress. Resilience and the ability to deal with such situations is essential for maintaining balance, and it also makes each subsequent problem not a dead end, but only a problem that you have to deal with and move on.
There are days when you work all day and in the evening you realize that you haven’t actually done anything specific? The reason may be the inability to manage oneself in time, i.e. the lack of prioritization of tasks, a poor level of planning activities or time estimation, as well as the problem with setting goals. All this makes working under time pressure doubly stressful because you are worried not only about getting the job done right, but also about whether you will “make it”. And in the IT industry, timeliness and efficiency, especially in working with clients, are very important, so it is worth focusing on this aspect of your work. Describing all the most effective techniques and methods of managing oneself in time would take too much space, but we recommend that you first get acquainted with the Eisenhower matrix and the Pomodoro technique, which will be great tools to support effective time management.
Although still underestimated, well-developed soft skills in the IT industry bring a number of advantages. It is this aspect of our daily work that helps to develop potential and increase efficiency, and this translates into better and better results at work, devoid of unnecessary frustration, fears or negative emotions.
From the point of view of the recruitment processes that we conduct at INCAT in order to carry out interesting tasks in the project, in the work of a programmer, not only programming skills are important to us. Technical knowledge and skills should go hand in hand with soft skills – their role is so important in the everyday tasks of a programmer, because projects are often diverse, require creative solutions, and provide technical information to people outside the industry. Regardless of the role of a programmer, whether he is a project manager or developer, he should be a communicative person. We pay a lot of attention to this skill as it is indispensable when planning a project as well as when making changes. Creating an application is not only lonely coding – it requires many months of team work and cooperation of many specialists, which is definitely helped by the implementation of the described skills in your professional everyday life. Definitely, all of them translate into work efficiency, and combined with specialist knowledge and experience, they will result in gaining a satisfying job and a sense of fulfillment – says Karolina Wolf, HR and recruitment specialist at INCAT.