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What they don't teach you at MIT

It is becoming increasingly clear that a set of soft or social skills are complementary to the adoption and use of the most advanced technologies. 

2019 World Development Report – The Changing Nature of Work observes that as machines increasingly take over routine tasks previously performed by humans, tomorrow’s jobs will become ever more about non-routine, cognitive, analytical, and interpersonal tasks. 

Success in this fast-changing labour market requires advanced cognitive skills (such as critical thinking and problem-solving), social-emotional skills (such as conscientiousness, goal orientation, and ability to work in teams) and up to date job-specific technical skills.

The report emphasises the primacy of human capital in meeting a challenge that, by its very definition, resists simple and prescriptive solutions. Many jobs today, and many more in the near future, will require specific skills—a combination of technological know-how, problem-solving, and critical thinking - as well as soft skills such as perseverance, collaboration, and empathy.

In a similar vein, a 2018 LinkedIn survey finds that ‘the number one priority for talent development is soft skills’.

Forecasting the most in demand technical skills is becoming more and more difficult. Research now suggests that it may be better to focus on providing adaptable, core transversal skills and building the capacity to learn.

At ICS we have been doing a lot to help Irish based IT workers meet not only the technical standards required to be a competent, up-to-date IT pro but also the soft-skills and leadership skills to help make the most of the huge potential for innovation for all organisations.

You may have heard us talking about our skills assessment tool CareerPlus and how it is based on the eCompetence Framework matching technical skills and competencies to over 30 of the most common IT job roles but that’s only half the story.

The other half of CareerPlus is built around the ICS Skills Framework which looks at the ‘softer’, but no less important skills required be effective in today’s workplace. Leadership & Strategy, Team & People Management, People Skills & Development, Business Operations, and Common Employability Skills – these five competency areas give you the opportunity to assess how you are at the more ‘human’ side of things – after all we already know you are a technical genius!

The value of this soft skills framework sitting alongside a very technical skills framework is that it gives you the opportunity to look at yourself or your team members holistically and a mechanism to identify the things to work on.

There exists a cliché that IT Managers are typically poor communicators. We as IT workers respond (understandably) defensively to this stereotype but it doesn’t mean that there might not be a grain of truth in it. If there is, why is that and what can we do about it?

“When people get promoted to management positions in their own organisations it is often due to their technical expertise. But being a people manager is an entirely different game. Being able to lead and motivate a team of individuals to perform well and achieve targets and goals requires a completely different set of skills, and an entirely different mindset. It’s not just about you anymore – it’s about them and what they can achieve,” says Grainne Carrickford Kingston, course director of our well-established IT Management Development Programme.

The course has been developed specifically to help answer these issues and to assist individuals in being the best managers they can be - managers who have gained respect and are successful in achieving desired outcomes with their teams, and in creating a positive work environment.

Figuring out your own preferred styles of leadership and the effect that has on the results you achieve is not something you can find on StackExchange. Knowing how to influence others and learning how to give negative/constructive feedback can have a huge effect on the success of your team. Like anything else if you haven’t been taught how, how can you know if you are doing it wrong until it’s maybe too late?

The IT Management Development Programme is now enrolling for March 2020. See for details.

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