By Paul Heltzel
May 17, 2016
“Soft skills and conversations with customers can also give a great sense of compassion that will improve how you build. You begin to think about what the customers really need instead of over-engineering.” -- Ben Donohue, VP of engineering, MediaMath
“It makes for better software when people talk,” says MediaMath’s Donohue. “Soft skills and conversations with customers can also give a great sense of compassion that will improve how you build. You begin to think about what the customers really need instead of overengineering.”
Talent Inc.’s Henderson says your work with other people is a crucial part of developing a successful dev career.
“All human activities are social, and development is no exception,” Henderson says. “I once witnessed an exchange on the Angular mailing list where a novice developer posted some code with questions. Within an hour -- and through the help of five people -- he had rock-solid idiomatic Angular code, a richer understanding of Angular nuance and pitfalls, and several new contacts. Although the trolls can sometimes cause us to lose faith, the world is full of amazing people who want to help one another.”
Automic’s Wilson says a lack of soft skills is a career killer. Then when less proficient programmers move ahead developers who don’t have people skills -- or simply aren’t exercising them -- are left wondering why. Yet everyone loves bosses, he says, “who demonstrate tact and proficient communication.”
“To improve your soft skills, the Internet, e-courses, friends, and mentors are invaluable resources if ... you are humble and remain coachable,” Wilson says. “Besides, we will all reach a point in our career when we will need to lean on relationships for help. If no one is willing to stand in your corner, then you, not they, have a problem, and you need to address it. In my career, I have valued coachable people over uncoachable when I have had to make tough personnel decisions.”
Programming is only one aspect of development, says management consultant Puri. “The big part is being able to communicate and understand business objectives and ideas, between groups of people with varying levels of technical skills. I've seen too many IT people who try to communicate too much technical detail when talking with management.”
Mistake No. 7: Failing to develop a career road map
Developing goals and returning to them over time -- or conversely developing an agilelike, go-with-the-flow approach -- both have their proponents.
“I recommend making a list of experiences and skills that you’d like to acquire and use it as a map, updating it at least annually.” --Michael Henderson, CTO, Talent Inc.