Good communication skills are essential for any professional in the IT sector. Whether your responsibilities include C-level management or you are a project manager, your career success depends highly on your soft skills. Especially if your team currently works from home, make sure that your schedule regular video conferencing with your teammates to share important information and be up to date.
From my experience working in a bespoke software development company, I have learned that even remote teams can manage to tackle challenging situations if they follow established best practices and communicate frequently. During stressful times, our fears and insecurities may overwhelm us and hinder us from performing our best at work. As a manager, it is up to you to find the right balance between personal and professional communication style and accept that the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic may be affecting some of your colleagues more than others.
Let’s explore some of the best communication techniques and methods that you can use to become an even more effective IT manager.
1. Lead by Example
Your attitude towards life will reflect your work attitude as a manager to a great extent. If you always like to have it your way and dominate socially, e.g. decide where to eat or plan your next family trip, it is likely that you will try to transfer this in your professional life as well. It is essential to know that as a leader, your teammates naturally tend to follow you if you possess leadership qualities. People usually have fine emotional attunement skills and can sense the current rhythm and affect you have.
When you know this, you can learn to regulate your emotions better and become a more skilful communicator. This can be easily achieved if you lead by example. It is often the little things that make a big difference, such as listening to others carefully, resolving arising interpersonal conflicts quickly and validating others’ needs and problems as though they were yours. With time you’ll begin to notice that your teammates start to treat each other the way you treat them, and this is a powerful way to lead by example.
2. Acquire Project Management Skills
In the software development industry, each company has multiple project managers or PMs that take care of the business aspect of a project and are a strategic link between the developers and the client. To be a successful PM, you must be aware of different communication types and select an adequate style for each occasion – interactive, push or pull communication. They each have pros and cons and are appropriate when you wish to accomplish a specific goal.
For instance, interactive communication such as face-to-face, video or phone calls is best used when you need to inform others on a sensitive topic, or you require a prompt answer.
Engage in interactive communication while discussing the client’s project requirements or planning the project’s next stage. Use push communication in case you don’t need and expect a quick response and just need to send key information. The primary channels here are email, newsletters, Google docs etc. Finally, pull communication is used when you allow decision-makers (partners, clients, investors etc.) to access information at their own time. Typical examples include PM software for tracking progress (e.g. Jira, Workzone, Assembla etc.) or a landing page.
3. Learn how to Motivate
Being a leader means to set an example, motivate and inspire others to achieve more and become a better version of themselves. Moreover, as an IT manager, you have to allow some degree of autonomy in your team. All this happens smoothly if you know how to motivate and influence others the right way. To stand out as an excellent manager, you have to develop these five essential qualities: recognise others’ success, communicate decisively, demonstrate personal integrity, share a shared vision with your teammates and be their inspiration.
When you present yourself as a confident, informed and experienced leader, it becomes easier to motivate others to do something. Bear in mind that new team members might not be aware of the company culture yet or might be unfamiliar with the company’s bigger goals. Try to communicate ongoing project goals in a way that aligns them with the bigger picture. Set up both one-to-one meetings and group calls to explain how each of your colleagues contributes to the project’s success. This encouragement and individual appreciation will motivate them to keep up the good work.
4. Master Giving Feedback
It may be challenging to tell bad news in delicate situations, it is always best to be straightforward and present facts as they are. Leading teams involves giving and receiving regular feedback. The famous Feedback Sandwich tactic is something to stay away from because the employee may easily get confused if you switch between positive and negative feedback. Instead, try to deliver constructive feedback and be concise and transparent in your speech.
What is more, concentrate on achievements during critical project stages, additional work hours, the extra effort that the person showed you. By focusing on positive things, you make your teammate feel accomplished and valued in your company. Provide facts and examples on what went well, what could have been done even better and most importantly – provide improvement suggestions with actionable steps on how to get there. If Lisa wants to contribute more to spreading knowledge across the company, suggest that she organises a weekly course dedicated to Java, Python, other technologies or even soft skills for developers. Appreciate her proactiveness and let her take the initiative.
5. Become Available
Being an excellent communicator begins with the simple act of just showing up to a meeting or picking the phone when someone calls. Hardly anything is so annoying and frustrating for your teammates when they need to ask your opinion on something, and you don’t pick up the phone for two days straight or don’t bother seeing your Slack notifications.
Being available and easily reachable immediately shows that you are engaged and interested in helping others. Of course, if your busy schedule simply doesn’t allow you to be available during entire working hours, book some time slots dedicated to answering emails and returning calls. I guarantee you that this will make you a better communicator and, as a result, a more effective and respected manager.
Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva
Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen on innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.