How many times have you read articles about the importance of communication? They seem to be everywhere these days. But, how many of those articles highlight the importance of communication for IT professionals? Business teams seem to get all the attention when it comes to communication skills. So I want to start levelling the playing field. Here are three reasons why communication is an essential skill for IT professionals.
Career progression requires communication
The days when good coding was enough to get promoted are behind us. Progressing in IT careers certainly requires great technical skills. But, tech skills alone won’t get you promoted to tech lead or senior software engineer roles.
Today’s IT jobs include interaction with clients, business teams, vendors, suppliers, and more. If you can’t communicate well, these interactions become evidence that you are not ready for promotion.
Even if you have one of the few programming jobs where you can work alone, the lack of communication skills is still a barrier to promotion. Progression to higher levels doesn’t happen because of time served. Interviews are a critical part of career progression. This is true whether in your current company or if you want to move to a new company. Bad communication skills can make the difference between acing the interview or being passed over yet again.
High quality work relies on clear communication
A software engineer can build the best widget in the world, but it is no good if it doesn’t solve the customer’s problem.
Requirements are a tricky thing. They are rarely specific and accurate on the first try. Understanding what clients and customers need requires conversation, communication, and collaboration. Poor communication skills make this harder. At best this means the requirements process is painful. At worst it means the requirements are wrong.
In addition, high-quality work is not only about what the customer wants. It includes producing a robust, quality IT product that is good for the future of the business. Quality includes scalability, being future proof, delivering good value for money, and more. These often need compromise between business and IT teams. Especially is timeframes and budgets are not exceeded.
This is where communication is an essential skill for IT professionals. If the technical teams can’t clearly communicate the things the business stakeholders care about, these situations result in misunderstandings, poor decisions, and frustration.
Agile practices require it
The increasing use of Agile is forcing communication between business and technical teams. The product owner and product manager roles carry some of the load. But the developers and software engineers, also have regular contact with the end-user. Giving demos, reviewing user stories, or giving progress updates, all require good communication.
The people who excel in this new world can communicate clearly, concisely, and with confidence.
If you rarely meet with a customer, your career still relies on good communication skills. If you want to deliver quality work, you need the ability to communicate with people on a range of topics. And the continued move towards Agile processes will put more and more technical people in front of business teams.
Despite the business teams getting all the press, communication is an essential skill for IT professionals. With so much at stake, are you focusing enough on your communication skills?