By Viktorija Nikoloska
Developing personal soft skills is one of the current trending topics among IT professionals. As we move forward with our careers, we realize that technical skills are not the only qualities we need to possess when working as software developers. Soft skills are just as important as technical skills because they determine the working atmosphere, work ethic, and teamwork and communication.
In certain situations, web developers can be ultra-intelligent and code without any effort. However, when working as part of a team of developers, technical skills can prove to be insufficient, especially if some of the co-workers have difficult personalities. Therefore, IT professionals need to develop the following soft skills:
- Time Management
- Task Organization
- Open-Mindedness and Adaptability
- Critical Thinking and Admitting Your Mistakes
Time Management: One of the Most Important Soft Skills
During working hours, software developers have the freedom to manage their time and prioritize their tasks according to their needs. Being able to successfully manage their time means that they have one of the basic soft skills that every employee must develop as part of their work ethic. A good way to manage your time and stay focused is by creating to-do lists or by using a time management technique, such as the Pomodoro.
Every one of us has once been found in a situation of being stuck in reading memes and watching videos for much longer than one should. That is why we must develop a soft skill for time management and organize both our tasks and activities, as well as our free time. As part of the time management strategy, we can learn how to maximize our work efficiency and how to minimize the time spent on procrastination.
However, having developed time management soft skills also means knowing when to stop working. Staying overtime and working all night long may prove to be unhealthy on a long-term basis. Therefore, software developers need to learn how to break their daily work routine, if they want to be efficient in their work.
Task Organization Goes Hand-In-Hand with Time Management
Another aspect of the time management strategy is to know how to organize your tasks and how to create a work plan. The list of must-have soft skills includes also a good organization of tasks and activities. In other words, workers who want to become impeccable IT professionals need to learn how to plan, prioritize and delegate their tasks appropriately.
Software developers who plan and prioritize their tasks by importance, then delegate them to other colleagues, will be able to deliver project deadlines on time. To do so, they need to have excellent organizational soft skills that will help them to manage their time accordingly and to eliminate any bad habits they might have.
Communication is the Master of Soft Skills
Communication is one of the key soft skills for software developers as well as for other employees, regardless of their position in a company. It is a well-known fact that understanding and communicating is not easy, especially when we try to explain something but the other person understands it in another way. Therefore, as part of the mandatory soft skills for programmers is to know how to communicate both with the company’s managers and with other co-workers.
Software developers are expected to communicate their work and assignments with their managers in order to get the necessary acknowledgment and their work performance evaluated. Managers usually create their own impressions of each team member by observing their performance. Moreover, these are the five aspects of the employees’ behavior that managers mostly pay attention to:
- Direct communication (in meetings and on projects)
- Punctuation on meetings
- Prepared presentations
- Communication with other team members
- Other people talking about you
Apart from the communication with managers, when developing soft skills such as communication skills, you need to learn how to communicate with other co-workers as well. In order to communicate effectively with your co-workers, you need to first speak clearly and with confidence, then listen to what others are saying and have patience when another person is speaking. One of the soft skills for software developers is to know how to communicate with other team members and explain to them in a clear way why you agree or disagree with them. Moreover, you will also have to know how to explain technical details to people who do not understand anything about the developers’ world.
Open-Mindedness and Adaptability are Keys for Understanding
Software developers need to be open-minded and able to adapt to the dynamics of their jobs. As one of the soft skills for developers, open-mindedness is crucial when listening to the ideas of others. By being open-minded, we can learn new things, build new ideas, accomplish the tasks successfully, and lower the number of unnecessary debates and conversations during meetings.
Open-mindedness helps us set aside our opinions, listen to other’s ideas without judgment and accept those ideas even when we do not like them at first. We need to keep our minds open to new ideas that come from either a team member or another employee in the company, regardless of whether we believe that it actually might work out or not.
In addition to being open-minded, software developers need to also adapt easily to changes within the company. Adaptability as one of the most important soft skills is needed in situations when technology is fastly developing and when programmers are expected to adapt to the changes in both software and hardware. To prove that they are adaptable, programmers can try and prove their experience through the hard skills they possess. Moreover, they may also list new programming languages or add statistics to their work experience in order to better prove their level of adaptability.
Teamwork is the Dreamwork
One of the main soft skills for software developers is to be able to work as part of a team of programmers who want to be successful. Being part of a team may not always prove to be positive, but a company can become more successful when the employees’ ideas differ.
Showing empathy towards other team members is an essential part of the teamwork. Trying to understand other people and their beliefs and characteristics may turn out beneficial. Web developers may show their empathy in various ways. Programmers who are empathic can try and see things from other points of view by listening to other team member’s ideas. Moreover, they need to provide feedback on various topics in an empathic manner with positive feedback, even when they do not agree with the idea and want to give negative comments. They should not make decisions based solely on their personal preferences.
The key to success when working as part of a team is to help each other, be approachable and be patient. Not being approachable or helpful may cause dislike or disbalance in the team and people may stop asking for help in the future, which eventually will turn into a bigger problem. Moreover, being patient is crucial when working with people who do not have the same mindset as you do. Software developers need to show patience when explaining things about programming to people who do not understand its difficulty, or when they are required to do something without having enough time given.
Embrace Critical Thinking and Learn to Admit Your Mistakes
Not many people can say that they can accept criticism with ease or that they can admit a mistake in the work. Avoiding to admit your mistakes may result in committing further similar mistakes in the future. In such situations, you need to stop for a moment, think critically about the situation, admit your mistakes and admit responsibility. You can do so by accepting that things went wrong and find a way to fix the problem, instead of trying to hide it. Admitting a mistake and taking responsibility will help you resolve the issue on time.
When writing clean code, developers may need to use critical thinking as one of the most needed soft skills, especially if they have several potential solutions to their current challenges. To solve the problem and assess those solutions, they will have to use both their creative and critical thinking.
All soft skills complement each other and the developers who possess most of them, if not all, are considered as employees with strong leadership potential. Which of these soft skills you have? Which ones you would like to improve?