Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stop Letting Technical People Get Away With Social Ineptitude

Stop Letting Technical People Get Away With Social Ineptitude

it’s often believed to be true because there are so many engineers and technical personnel with poor people skills. I never have seen statistics to support the notion that the ratio is higher in these professions than in others, yet employers often find that people filling these roles with poor people skills are still employable. This needs to stop.
I’m of the opinion that every position is customer-facing.

It seems fine to me to wish everyone you hire is strong at every aspect of work. I think it is a bit unrealistic but maybe my standards are too low (this is the opposite of what most people find who know me though). It seems to me people that are very skilled (have skills that are not easily found) have leeway to do poorly in other areas and still be a net gain to the employer. This is true for divas, athletes and technical people. There are lots of technical people that are great working with people. My experience though, is you often have trouble finding only them for every single technical job (though I am sure the more demand there is for working at your organization the more possible it becomes).

My belief is most technical people could be better in this way if they wanted to. They just can get away without and so do. yeah it isn’t great, but the real world often has things that are not as the “should be.” If you want to work at Trader Joe’s and want to be anti-social they can just move on to the next person and find plenty of people that are great with people and have all the skills they need.

One thing that comes into play also is the desire of technical people (and academics) to challenge ideas and pick at weaknesses. This is a very beneficial trait. Some people can’t distinguish criticism of ideas and being mean to people. It is not wise to set a standard where people taking offense to ideas being criticized is protected over sensible critical discussion of ideas.

I do agree with your mindset, I just think a bit more flexibility may be warranted. I would agree the corporate culture should be one that expects and coaches everyone to customer friendly and that works well with others.

Related: Understanding How to Manage Geeks - Respect People by Creating a Climate for Joy in Work - Respect for People – Understanding Psychology - The Manager FAQ

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