The software development industry is highly volatile and dynamic where it’s mandatory for engineers to have a blend of both technical and communication skills in order to let their career flourish. It’s easy to acquire technical expertise by working hard in a professional setting.
But, the real challenge for engineers is to develop essential communication skills that allow them to interact efficiently and harmoniously with other people, whether in their full-time roles or working in contracts. As correctly quoted by an eminent American software engineer and author Tom DeMarco: "The business we’re in is more sociological than technological, more dependent on workers’ abilities to communicate with each other than their abilities to communicate with machines.”
Considering the significance of these skills, let’s look at top twelve of them in detail which can make a programmer perfect fit for a software company.
It’s great that you can talk well and express your thoughts in a clear manner. But is disciplined environments it’s also essential for the programmers to have the ability to put their thoughts in writing precisely. This helps them in raising their voice at the right time and in the right manner.
In a software team, it becomes highly important for engineers have the potential to express their thoughts in the form of visually appealing diagrams. This gives you an edge over the others and the capability to express yourself in a unique way.
The main task of a programmer is not only to develop code or fix a bug. But they should be well-versed with reporting the entire issue in an effective manner to the other team members or external staff.
Great engineers have the potential to take up any complex technical problem and describe it is simple terms so that it becomes easy even for non-technical people to understand it properly. This is a crucial skills that can be beneficial in increasing your usefulness in the professional setting.
The majority of the software projects are open source where it is mandatory for the engineers to have the ability to work with an open community cohesively. They should be always willing to give something back to the community for the software they provide.
Programmers can do this by performing tasks such as reporting problems, submitting pull requests, creating their own open source products, etc. For doing all these tasks efficiently engineers do need a lot of non-tech skills.
This skill needs programmers to participate and take advantage of various digital communities and resources such as StackOverflow, GitHub, and many more. This is important because the software development domain is expanding globally and it’s not enough to stay within your team and gain knowledge from their experience.
This kind of online communities, platforms, and resources are there to help the programmers in solving their problems and enhancing their knowledge base. Also, they can get instant expert advice from some of the most renowned technical wizards which can prove to be a lifesaver for engineers.
This skill is not limited to the technical ability to write and run automated tests. But it’s also highly important for engineers to communicate effectively with the testers so that to get their honest feedback which could improve the overall performance and quality of the product under development.
In addition, good programmers must know how to deal with the famous developer-tester conflict which has been in existence for a long time. Also, they should understand the worth of testers and treat them with respect and dignity.
The prime source of income for engineers is to write code. But in rare situations development projects fail due to money conflicts between the programmer and the client. The major reason behind this is that the engineers are not familiar with the ways to manage their financial goals.
They hesitate when asking for a raise or modifying the paying schedule. This makes it extremely important for the programmers master the art of managing financial relationships with their clients. Also, they should be loud and clear when negotiating financial matters.
It’s not good for programmers to keep working in a single master branch for a very long period of time. They should learn how to move gradually from the amateur category to the expert bandwagon.
The engineers must know how to deal with multiple branches efficiently and resolve conflicts between them. For acquiring this trait, programmers need to have a skill that is not at all related to the quality of code they produce. But, this skill definitely has a positive impact on the professionalism of the software engineers.
The efficient programmers must have exceptional time management skills. They should be able to monitor their time spent on the work and take out some time to relax. This will encourage them to have a peaceful mindset where they can manage their time effectively and realize their full potential. Also, it will help them in enhancing their overall productivity and efficiency.
Developers should have a comprehensive knowledge of the entire development process. They should be aware of the significance of delivery pipeline, continuous integration, staging, build automation, green/blue deployments, etc. All these concepts aren’t relevant to the DevOps department only.
Great programmers must have an idea of how their code reaches the users. They should also be well-versed with the pipeline and people involved with the project. This will help them in visualizing project as a whole and take it more seriously.
The engineers should be able to see the bigger picture and understand the product, people involved, and pipeline in a better manner. They can’t afford to survive in isolation and considering writing code as their one and only job. They should have the ability to work in a team and understand the nuances of the project in detail irrespective of whether they fall under their niche expertise.
It’s quite obvious that many development projects fail. The reason behind this failure isn’t always technical. But the majority of the projects fails due to incompetent management. Therefore, it’s essential for the programmers know how to deal with such failures.
They should have the capacity to discover the reason behind their failure and predicting potential risks. Also, they should be well-versed with managing these risks and stick to the spirit of never giving up.
These are not the only communication and collaboration skills required for programmers to excel in their career. But there are several other qualities which engineers should inculcate in order to deliver successful projects. Some of these skills are empathy, critical thinking, willing to learn, adaptability, attitude, etc.
Software engineers can acquire these skills by paying attention to new opportunities and working with an attitude that motivates them to grasping new concepts and accepting offered guidance optimistically.
This is adapted from this article by Rahul Varshneya.
Look beyond the specific coding acumen, and start early thinking about the following essential skills as you develop in your engineering career:
Being able to communicate clearly
In business terms - not in tech jargon - with business people / non-technical co-workers.
A high-level understanding of how systems work:
how to abstract systems into manageable layers
how the business or product ought to influence the structure of your app/code
knowing which technologies solve what high-level problems
Ability to elegantly connect different pieces of a system.
It’s easy to build a piece of a closed system. It’s hard to build something that connects with other systems, teams in your organization, etc. You’ll need to make sure you understand requirements much better and provide really good documentation. Yes - it means you will need to communicate with people and exercise your writing skills. Sometimes writing for non-technical people
Collaborating with a team
You’ll soon find yourself getting frustrated with your co-workers. Maybe they don’t code the same way as you? Maybe they don’t have the same understanding as you do. Maybe every morning they take the first 30 minutes of their day to tell you about what movie they watched last night? E-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. You’ll have to learn that everyone is different. Pick your battles. Not every difference is important. The things that are important - make sure you address those concerns by speaking with that person directly.
Knowledge of the business problem is essential
How can you build a solution to a problem you don’t fully understand? If your product is designed to fix a problem that medical doctors have then you’ll need to know about how doctors work and deal with the problem at hand. Get to know your problem so well that fixing the problem by writing code is the last resort. This means having to problem-solve with business people and doctors, for example. It might mean having to learn more skills: marketing, product design, business planning, etc.