The Soft Skills for Hard Core Technical Professionals blog is maintained by Profitable Growth Partners, LLC. It provides a venue for the exchange of ideas on the topic of skill-sets that are required for today's technical professional.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How Important are Soft Skills?



According to a recent study by Robert Half:

The Most Valuable Qualifications for Technical Professionals
· 43% Industry specific knowledge
· 32% Soft Skills
· 15% Certification in Relevant Technology
· 8% IT Related undergrad degree
· 1% MBA
· 1% Don’t Know

The Most Important soft skills for Technical Professionals
· 37% Interpersonal Skills
· 20% Written or verbal communication
· 17% Ability to work under pressure
· 11% Overall business acumen
· 7% Professional demeanor
· 8% Other/Don’t Know

Who invests in Soft Skills Training for Technical People?
· 53 % of all companies surveyed
· 62% of companies with more than 1000 employees
· 70% of business services firms

Increasingly, companies are improving the productivity of individual technical staff, increasing the project success rates for the technical team, and improving the bottom line of their companies by paying attention to the soft skills of their technical teams. While many believe that they MUST invest in continuing to develop the technical skills of their teams, the REAL ROI comes from leveraging those technical skills with upgrades to soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, teamwork, and leadership.

Do you believe it? How have you improved the service levels of your technical team? We invite you to comment, and share your experience and thoughts with other technical leaders...


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Randy,

I agree with the basic premise, however given our tight budgets and even tighter schedules, how do I know that training people in soft skills will really make a difference?

Mark S.

Anonymous said...

My experience is that when it comes to an ability to communicate, people are the way they are. I don't know that you can take someone who is not outgoing and a good communicator and put them in front of customers. I guess what I am saying is that people either have it, or they don't.

Boot Camp for Managers said...

Mark,

Great question! We have had good results with MEASURABLE improvements to people's soft skill abilities. In some cases, just observing staff and getting feedback from clients and customers is a good measure. In other cases, we work with clients to do assessments on the front-end, measuring skills such as emotional intelligence and communication, and then do follow up assessments to ensure the new skills are making a difference. While not everyone moves from the low end of the continuum to the high end, everyone who has been through the experiential training moves up the scale. The results are improved customer satisfaction, improved projected success rates, and improved job satisfaction for the technical staff.

-Randy

Profitable Growth Partners said...

As for the comment "people either have it, or they don't" we would agree that we can rarely turn and extreme intovert into a world class communicator. However, anyone with a willingness to improve CAN become a more effective communicator. More than any other factor, the willingness to improve is the key. This is why we spend a significant amount of time on the front end of our programs, getting people to "buy in" to the importance of softskills. We use a number of real world examples to demonstrate how technical professional are able to more highly leverage their technical skills, by understanding and improving skills like teamwork and communication.

-Randy

Anonymous said...

We have used softskills training to groom our future managers and leaders. I agree that these are skills that can be learned. We have been amazed at how far some people have come when given the tools to succeed.

Greg G.