December 25, 2012, 7:03 AM — Looking to help your IT team members improve their interpersonal skills? Technology professionals can refine their ability to communicate with business colleagues by participating in interdepartmental meetings, moving into business units and joining Toastmasters.
Here are three ways IT pros can improve interpersonal skills:
1. Keep in mind that business and technology are so intertwined these days that it's critical for IT professionals to be able to work and communicate across departments. IT workers can develop their interpersonal skills by being involved in more interdepartmental meetings and in customer interactions where they must explain technical issues in a way anyone can understand. The more they interact with those outside their expertise, the better their communication skills will become and the better they will understand the needs of others in the organization.
2. Remember that the "suits" and "techies" are going to mix about as well as oil and water. That's OK. They don't have to best friends and get together every weekend for a barbecue or Star Trek marathon. But those differing cultures can't be used as an excuse to avoid working together. Consider having IT employees shadow department managers at work to become more comfortable interacting with them. Or place IT workers within other departments so they aren't physically isolated.
3. Don't stereotype IT professionals as people destined to be socially awkward and who will never be comfortable developing interpersonal skills. Many IT workers welcome career development opportunities, so put aside preconceived notions and allow them to attend seminars where they'll be exposed to professionals from HR or marketing. Enroll them in classes such as those from Toastmaster's International to help them improve their public speaking and presentation skills.
Anita Bruzzese writes a column on workplace issues for USAToday.com and is the author of 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy.
Read more about careers in CIO's Careers Drilldown.