The past year hasn’t been all doom and gloom for IT pros. Throughout the pandemic, IT teams have moved mountains to ensure smooth transitions to remote work for the larger organisation—and their successful efforts have caused many to realise their worth to the business. Confidence is at an all-time high, according to this year’s SolarWinds® IT Pro Day survey, with 48% of IT pros wearing their vocation like a badge of honour. 41% realised they were capable of greater things, while 62% have a newfound motivation to excel in their roles.
These are encouraging figures, but IT pros should use this confidence as an opportunity to improve skills and take on new challenges. Almost 81% of surveyed IT professionals believe opportunities abound to develop their careers further—but such beliefs require equal amounts of humility and hard work to learn, upskill and take on future challenges. Below are several key considerations IT pros should incorporate into their plans and use to further fuel their momentum into 2022 and beyond.
Improve Shortcomings, but Remember the Fundamentals
The remote work experience has undeniably been a masterclass for IT teams, particularly in the soft skills department. Close collaboration and clear objectives are natural requirements for a remote workforce separated by distance, and any IT pro who doesn’t pick up on them quickly will face greater levels of frustration from their more sociable peers.
Indeed, based on the survey, 66% of IT pros cited the need to improve teamwork and listening skills, while 46% are focused on sharpening their public speaking skills. Anyone familiar with typical IT stereotypes would admit this is a tectonic shift in the right direction.
But they shouldn’t overlook technical skills that help their day jobs, and possibly, future advancement. Technical skills like documentation, project management, and Agile development methodologies, for example, should be prioritised. These aren’t just great additions to any IT pro’s toolset; they also allow them to flex their social muscles consistently, due to a higher level of interaction. Project management, for instance, requires negotiation of priorities and expectations with stakeholders, while documentation requires clear and concise communication. IT pros should decide on a combination of technical and supplementary soft skills they want to nurture—and go for it with gusto!
Snowball the Hard-Won Momentum of the Past Months
Most businesses accelerated digitisation at the start of the pandemic, driven by a necessity to pivot revenue models and kickstart remote work. IT pros found themselves in a world where technologies, like cybersecurity tools or network management solutions, were a necessity rather than a “nice-to-have.” This has emboldened many to push these areas of IT within the business—over 57% are focused on improving security, 51% on troubleshooting capabilities, and 49% on better network management capabilities.
My challenge to business and IT leaders is to support this push and snowball existing momentum for further digitisation. Encourage and support team members looking to upskill in these areas or obtain previously mentioned soft skills to advance their careers. Provide resources, remove obstacles, and give greater responsibility to those who are ready! In short, IT leaders need to build more leaders under them—individuals who understand the overarching goals of the business and have the know-how to help get there.
Build upon the newfound confidence of your IT team, give them the exposure and tools they need to support the business, and your organisation will be in a good place to recover, and succeed, in the post-pandemic world.
What Does Future Success Look Like for IT Pros?
Due to their increased involvement in decision-making and interdepartmental collaboration, success in the future will look very different for today’s IT pros. Of course, technical competency will still be critical for career advancement, but so will non-technical metrics like co-worker feedback or CSAT scores. Because these non-technical metrics are critical to ensuring a seamless hybrid work environment, IT professionals—and IT leaders—would be wise to consider them when evaluating performance.
Nevertheless, it’s been a fruitful year of self-discovery and confidence-building for IT pros, and what they do with their newfound worth within the business will set the stage for years to come. Above all else, IT pros must remember why they chose this vocation in the first place. The need to problem-solve and tinker with technology, both sources of satisfaction for the average IT pro, aren’t going away—in fact, they will likely increase in the coming months as businesses acclimatise and adapt to post-pandemic hybrid working.
The only difference now? IT pros have more influence and clout to get the resources they need, to do what they love to do, more than ever before.