How to Master Effective Communication with Your Software Team

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The topic of soft skills and how much they are needed grows more and more prominent by the day. It is discussed whether soft skills give you an edge when it comes to technical specialists, or if it is more of an additional requirement that is not that useful.

Also, what it means to possess soft skills is a broad concept. It can be considered anything from controlling body language to the ability to assess a situation and use advanced interpersonal, managerial skills. Take a look at the following survey-based study conducted by LinkedIn. In it are ranked the most desirable talent traits of 2019:

Possessing strong, soft skills is listed as one of the four main qualities that are in need. One of the main reasons behind this is the rise of Artificial intelligence and Automation in testing. Efficient manual and repetitive labor are no longer in demand, so the focus shifts to what only humans can provide: soft and interpersonal skills.

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That allows for better control of the automated methods and increases the condition as a whole. 92% of talent professionals and hiring managers agree that candidates with strong, soft skills are increasingly important.

If you are still unsure whether strong soft skills are all that important, consider that Google conducted an in-depth survey ranking the skills they value most.  That is based on all the data gathered on all of the company’s employees dating back to 1998.

The curious results show that the best employees are not the ones with the highest expertise in fields such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But contrary to expectations, the ones who possess excellent interpersonal skills such as:

  • good coaching approach
  • communicating and active listening
  • the ability to understand others (including respecting and responding appropriately to varying moral values and points of view)
  • exercising empathy toward and being supportive of colleagues
  • critical thinking and problem-solving abilities
  • understanding and applying complex ideas and solutions
Img source: hr-pulse.org

As you can see, possessing well-honed soft skills is just as important as being a competent developer. The common thing between all the above qualities is communication. I can understand and respond well to both verbal and non-verbal cues.

In this article, we will explore just that – using communication as a tool to reach personal, professional, and managerial success.

Communication is the Bridge to Collaboration

Teamwork is what builds a great software product. According to Dreamix, by working in a tightly managed dedicated software team, the product becomes more well-rounded and is handled much more efficiently. Here is the tricky part. You have a strong working team that consists of individuals who have different values, different ideas, different levels of competence, as well as confidence.

The managers have the task to serve as an intermediary in the communication, providing and guiding the focus of the efforts towards the product’s best interest rather than each employees’ idea of what the right approach is. That needs to happen while minimizing conflicts and making sure the process stays on track.

And this is why secure communication is the bridge to a successful collaboration, to the point some may argue it is the most critical managerial skill to hone. Here is how:

Find a Common Language

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Regardless of whether you are a manager or a developer, you will have to be able to talk to different professionals. From designers to CEO/Product Owners and further QAs and other developers. So naturally, how you speak should change based on your audience.

You shouldn’t talk to the designers with the technical slang you use between developers. On the other hand, dumbing down your language when speaking with fellow technical personnel may come off as condescending, even if this is not the intention.

Make an effort to level up with the person in front of you and adjust your language.

Ask Questions and Listen to the Answers

People love to talk. Especially when we talk about ourselves and what we are doing and what is intriguing to us. However, by simply being focused on what we have to say, it is unlikely we will grow, either in terms of personal development and also professional. So ask appropriate questions, make an effort to understand the others’ point of view and beliefs. Try to find common ground when discussing a potential solution to a problem.

Make an effort to hear out the other person when in a discussion carefully. Show interest by sticking to the topic, asking to follow up questions without interrupting. Maintain eye contact and turn your attention towards the one you are holding discussions with.

Take Responsibility

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It can be difficult to admit when you have made a mistake. But to be able to grow professionally, you need to learn to accept responsibility to any misunderstandings that happen. Mistakes are a natural part of the process.

No one would expect you never to make mistakes, however, the way you face up to them makes all the difference when it comes to how you are perceived. Empty pride has no place in a professional setting. The only way to correct a mistake is to graciously accept ownership and move on to find a way to resolve it.

Build a Well-Rounded Team and Respect the Members

While, as a developer, you need to be flexible and find a way to work with colleagues who are assigned to you, as a tech manager, you have the unique chance to put together a team of individuals and guide the selection process along.

Now that you have your team, how do you nurture collaboration? Give all members a shot to make the most of their specific skillset. Allow them to play by their strengths with the tasks they are assigned. Efficiency is repetition plus time. To reap the benefits of what your team-members are strong at. Treat your team with respect and honesty, and they will reciprocate.

Communicate Transparently and Frequently

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The biggest pitfall to a software project is when your team does not understand what they are doing and why. Be honest with your organization, not only about what they need to do.

Nurture collaboration and co-operative efforts between team members – if someone doesn’t feel confident they understand something, they should be encouraged to discuss it with the person who created that particular part of the project.

Make it well-known you are available for inquiries if needed, and follow through on your promise by directing your attention at the person when they approach you to discuss an issue or ideas.

Give and Request Feedback

Some mechanism for feedback is established in all companies. However, the way they are executed varies drastically. For some, it is merely a technicality that is skimmed over, without addressing it seriously. Feedback is only helpful when taken seriously and with an open mind.

Besides, it is beneficial for an employee to have a measurable way to know if they are doing well. Also, being told there is something that needs changing in time allows for a more productive company and in-team improvement.

Feedback should be accepted and required in return. Appreciating the information allows companies to nurture their employees. It is also a great way to pull in new employees and provide the right working conditions and also create an environment that allows a high retention rate.

How Good are you with Communication?

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Reading this article, are you well-adjusted with communication? Do you think that you need to improve your communication skills? Think about it and make conscious efforts to improve your skills and apply them in different ways, both professionally and personally.

I hope you find this helpful and apply it in your life in a way that helps you grow and evolve. Comment below what you want to focus on and what you think your strong skills are and how they help you!

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