The IT industry has been clamouring for a while now, to reclassify “soft” skills as something more significant. Even before the pandemic outbreak necessitated engineering teams to work from home, experts have been calling for a revamp on the traditional “core” abilities, so that they place more emphasis on important competencies such as leadership, teamwork, communication, empathy, and listening. Dan Roberts, an IT workforce specialist, has opined that “downplaying these vital competencies by referring to them as soft, undervalues their importance”. Therefore, when discussing the significance of soft skills in today’s workplace, IT managers should reconsider and place more emphasis on these important “core competencies”.
Coding skills used to be a compulsory requirement for job seekers hoping to make headway in technical fields like software development, as stated by Al Sene of Digital Ocean. However, in recent times, the priorities have shifted, and additional competencies like the ability to communicate effectively, make quick on-the-spot assessments, and the ease to empathize and motivate colleagues, are now considered increasingly significant.
The pandemic has pushed several companies to turn completely remote, thus amplifying the importance of these crucial “core competencies”.
It’s easy to forget that colleagues who aren’t physically present in the office aren’t necessarily out of sight and out of mind. Still, this attitude can be damaging to teams that operate entirely remotely. Vital Smarts, an organisation dedicated to training initiatives, conducted research that discovered that virtual teammates have a higher likelihood of detecting issues such as distrust, incompetence, unfulfilled commitments, and poor decision-making between remote colleagues, as compared to those who are co-located. This is especially worrisome during the COVID-19 pandemic, where a significant number of professionals are working remotely from various parts of the world.
It is a grave situation when people harbour distrust towards one another.
Engineering teams are renowned for their ability to assess the technical expertise of prospective job candidates. As part of the hiring process, competitions like hackathons and coding challenges are regularly organized to gauge the coding and other proficiencies of applicants. After the technical evaluation, developers are assigned tasks based on their level of expertise, which is determined by their years of experience and the results of technical assessments. Meanwhile, software development is now more and more a team effort, requiring joint efforts in problem-solving and innovative approaches.
Several engineering companies are overlooking empathy while evaluating the soft skills of potential job seekers. Have you come across any promotions for workshops that aim to teach individuals how to enhance their ability to inspire confidence in those around them?
With the rising number of remote jobs, it is becoming more and more apparent that people need to be equipped with the right tools to develop their soft skills for effective communication and successful remote work from anywhere, as per Sene.
At Works, we recognise the significance of having engineers with the appropriate soft skills for remote teams, which is why we evaluate and assess engineers based on their technical expertise, along with their proficiency in a range of abilities we call “PSUC” or “Universal Competencies”. These values-based competencies include following established protocols, taking the initiative, and being accountable. Moreover, our definition of universal competencies includes skills that go beyond technology, such as efficient time management, communication, and teamwork. By guaranteeing that our engineers possess the necessary soft skills, we can ensure that our remote teams are well-equipped to succeed.
As managers in the engineering sector at Works, we understand that remote workers need to actively participate in team discussions and express themselves with assurance if they detect a problem, notice something seems off, or think someone else needs assistance. Drawing on our experience of matching several remote engineers with many companies, we have discovered that leadership, empathy, and communication are absolutely critical.
In the digital era, businesses are realising the advantages of having geographically dispersed teams, particularly in the engineering sector where remote working is becoming more and more common. According to Roberts, relying solely on technical know-how is insufficient for thriving in this new era; having a diverse team with expertise beyond coding is essential for productivity, creativity, and flexibility. Roberts asserts that by having such a team in place, any company can stay agile and capable of adapting to any situation.
For more information, you can read our related article: Necessary Soft Skills for Every Software Developer