As business and IT intersect, it’s imperative for IT professionals to have some business skills in order to succeed. They don’t have to be well-versed in all business skills across the board, especially ones that require intensive specialization. Instead, there are 10 fundamental business skills that every IT professional must master.
Listening well not only helps you understand the people around you, but it will also help you communicate effectively. Another benefit to effective listening is that you may gain valuable information from other people’s subject matter expertise when you pay close attention to what they say.
Collaboration has always been essential in business. With the adoption of Agile, collaboration has become even more important in the IT world since one of Agile’s core elements involves developers and business users working together. Effective collaboration is a key factor in achieving goals and solutions as cross-functional teams work together on projects and initiatives.
Without the ability to negotiate, anyone—including IT pros—could find themselves stuck and not able to move forward when facing an obstacle or challenge. When multiple people or groups have to work together, they may not always see eye-to-eye, so negotiation is often the determining factor for progress and success.
4. Basic Business Finance
IT professionals don’t have to understand advanced financial operations. However, they should know the basic principles such as return on investment (ROI), depreciation, the difference between capital and operating expense, etc.
5. Understanding the Company’s Business Model
When IT pros have a good grasp on the business model, they will be in a better position to offer suggestions on how IT can benefit business. Without this knowledge, IT pros won’t know what’s actually relevant to making the company more successful.
6. Understanding the Company’s Operating Model
When IT pros understand how the pieces fit together, they will have the contextual framework to recognize real improvement versus something that’s merely hypothetical. This knowledge will also give an IT professional significant leverage during negotiations.
7. Knowing How to Use Pronouns
Clear communication is essential, and knowing how to appropriately use pronouns will help maximize acceptance and minimize resistance when communicating. It’s important to designate the use of pronouns because some are better to use when expressing mistakes or inaccuracies (“I” and “they”), while “you” is better suited for expressing positivity, and “we” can be used to establish buy-in.
8. Political Power Mapping
Career advancements often rest largely on other people deciding that you have earned and deserve a new opportunity. Knowing who in the company has this kind of decision-making authority will help you to network effectively.
9. Managing Up
While this may sound like just a cliché concept, it is actually an essential business skill to have. Being able to manage up effectively will establish you as a valuable asset and it may give you the ability to influence opinions and decisions.
10. Doing Your Job
No matter what your role is, proficient delivery and doing your job well is critical. Understanding how your job fits in to the big picture is imperative because it determines how you should leverage your position to have the biggest impact.
What fundamental business skills do you think IT professionals need to master? To read more, check out the slideshow at CIO.com.