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IT Leaders and Communication Skills in the Workplace

In another article, IT Communication in the Workplace, I discussed the importance of developing communication skills of tech professionals to better connect with co-workers and customers. Research shows Information Technology (IT) leaders agree and are working to enhance the skills of their employees. Are IT leaders seeing improvement? Are the training processes currently in place streamlined and efficient?

A recent study conducted by the CIO Executive Council asked questions directly to IT leaders to gain an understanding of communication and training through their eyes. The results show an increased awareness of the value of communication and communication learning/development in the workplace, but it’s an uphill battle to get limited results. Here is some compelling data from the “Power of Effective IT Communication” survey:

  • Four out of one hundred IT leaders believe that they are highly effective in communicating with their non-IT colleagues.

  • Half of IT leaders believe that a lack of communication talent holds their teams back.

  • Half of IT leaders believe the poor communication between IT staff and non-IT staff is due, in part, to a lack of communication talent on the IT team.

  • One in ten of IT leaders spend the equivalent of at least three full eight-hour workdays per month on dedicated communication activities, both inside and outside of the organization. Two out of five spend the equivalent of at least one workday.

In the survey, when IT leaders were asked about the barriers that stood in the way of effective communication, their answers could be broadly organized into four categories: 1) a lack of resources; 2) a lack of knowledge; 3) a lack of talent; and 4) a lack of historical credibility. While there are resources addressing communication in the workplace, there is a lack of training resources available which speak specifically to the communication between tech professionals and non-tech professionals. There is a lack of experts who can effectively share their knowledge and a distinct lack of tech professionals who possess the communication talent necessary to clearly communicate with non-tech people.

I recently came across a blog article which perfectly illustrates the point that communication skills in IT staff need to be developed. The blog is called “a smart bear” and essentially the writer answers questions from readers. A question was submitted by a tech worker who had been writing code for more than 10 years. He was recently promoted to a position that required him to speak with non-technical customers and he was finding it very frustrating. He wanted to know how to tell the customers they CAN’T understand and they just have to trust him.

Wow. Can you imagine calling in for customer support and having the employee tell you that you are not smart enough to understand the answer? Is that a company you would continue to do business with? No! Of course not! The problem doesn’t lie with the inability of the customer to understand the tech language, but rather with the ability and patience of the employee to communicate in the terms a customer will understand.

Leaders in the Information Technology field are coming to understand the value of communicating with non-tech colleagues and customers. We’re delighted that Cooperperson Performance Consulting is providing the learning and development resources in communication skills that IT departments are effectively using. For more information, contact us.


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