Your success as an ISV depends on more than your software development skills. How your team communicates is equally important as they work together and interact with clients. In addition, good communication is vital when you negotiate partnerships with other solutions providers or investors.
Everyone can benefit from improving communication skills, even if interacting with clients and public speaking seem to come naturally to you. And in an ever-changing business environment in which you continuously work with new people with different communication styles and preferences, having a well-developed communication skill set can help your ISV maintain productivity and efficiency.
Advice for Improving Communications Skills
Whether you are working to improve communication among your team, mentoring new developers, or honing your own skills, these five tips can help:
- Understand and be understood. In a busy workplace, you may not take the time to pay attention to what a co-worker is saying or to make sure the person you are talking to thoroughly understands the message you are trying to convey. This may be even more of a challenge if you are working with remote team members or off-shore development teams. Taking a moment to clear up any ambiguity could save hours and added cost to correct a problem later.
- Write well. Business writing is a must-have skill for software developers. Make sure you proofread emails and other communications—especially when you want to impress a partner or client. Also make sure you can communicate the proper tone and intent along with information to maintain good working relationships. Another sign of a skilled communicator is knowing when a written message works and when it’s better to call or meet face to face. Write when it is the best course of action and not because it’s the easy way out.
- Accept invitations to speak. Practice is the only way to sharpen your skills as a presenter or moderator. Take advantage of opportunities to speak or participate in industry events to hone your skills as a presenter and grow more at ease with public speaking.
- Take timing into account. Catching someone who is intently concentrating on a project may not be the best time to capture their attention and get your message across. Timing matters with written communication as well. Waiting to send information that a remote team member is expecting without taking a time zone difference into account can cause unneeded frustration. When you say something can be as important as what you say.
- Use technology tools. Communication isn’t just about words. Sometimes images, graphs, and demonstrations can get your point across much better than words alone. Examples of tools that are available include diagram builders, file-sharing and screen-sharing solutions, project management tools, and video conferencing solutions. Use them to your advantage.
Resources for Improving Communication Skills
Improving communication skills is a continuous process driven by the need to find the most effective communication methods for new circumstances and when working with new people. The following resources can help you take a deeper dive into specific topics when new communication challenges arise.
- com has a page devoted to communication that includes a variety of links to topics including effective speaking, intercultural communication, and listening skills.
- “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has been a valuable resource for professionals since it was first published in 1937, providing advice on effective communication and leadership skills The Dale Carnegie website includes a variety of free resources, such as the e-book “Assessment on Communicating with Diplomacy.”
- Best-selling books like “Crucial Conversations,” “Talk Like TED,” and “How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success” are available as audiobooks or downloads as well as paperback and hardback books.
Benefit from Opportunities to Learn
Misunderstandings will inevitably occur, but encourage your team to view them as opportunities to grow as communicators and identify changes they need to prevent problems in the future. Learning and developing new techniques will take time, but the investment you make into improving communication skills will provide your ISV with better customer and partner relationships, more efficient teams, and a better work environment.