Distributed Teams: Why Soft Skills Are As Important As Technical Aptitude

For the longest time, software engineers would ignore the importance of soft skills, relegating them to the back and basically forgetting about them. 

So what changed in these years, where employers are actually looking for someone to hire remote software developer team who is well-rounded? Someone who is not only great at coding but also has the ability to translate requirements into a perfect product.

Inside offices, where project managers and team leads are always on hand to discuss and iron out any ambiguities, distributed teams faced the brunt of communication gaps. One major reason a lot of companies were skeptical about shifting to a remote environment. 

But for how long can one keep the inevitable at bay? The pandemic was definitely a push into the “Future of Remote Employment” by at least a decade if not more. Things went distributed overnight with companies making sense of a chaotic time.

Hire the aptitude as well as the attitude

Hiring decisions are now based on a whole spectrum of skills rather than just the technical aptitude of an individual. Teamwork, being able to communicate effectively, time management, are all part and parcel of a skillset a distributed team needs at their disposal to function seamlessly.

One needs to see technical aptitude in tandem with soft skills. One is as important as the other and needs to gel to be able to function in an ever-changing environment.

Diversity is needed in a dynamic setting – otherwise, one is bound to fail.

Ruling out soft skills – the pitfalls to such an approach

Unconsciously we all use soft skills in our daily interaction. Whether it is negotiating with a boss or a company or presenting a new idea within your sphere, all take a certain amount of persuasion and communication skills. 

Also unconsciously, seniors oft incline towards individuals who portray a certain amount of problem-solving skills and creativity in their workings, and not ones who simply follow instructions to the T to get their tasks over and done with. The former more often than not also win promotions over peers who remain stagnant up to a certain point with just their technical abilities.

Now that the world has accepted distributed teams as a reality, it is all the more reason to select a team with members who portray these skills. Not doing so would be a folly, and the pitfalls are obvious.

Compare two coders. One who has above reasonable coding skills coupled with the ability to think creatively and problem solve, be able to manage time and tasks effectively, is open to suggestions and communicates with the team constantly, and also has an internal locus of control. Now on the other hand there is a coder with a slightly better technical aptitude, but who would love to be left alone, can reasonably complete tasks on time but may lag if not constantly kept a check and (have an external locus of control) and does not bring much to the table during discussions. Now put both of them in a remote world. Who would you think would be a better choice to hire on your team?

There is a constant struggle when it comes to making hiring decisions by recruiters, as such things are not revealed instantaneously. They have to be rooted out over a period of time.

Luckily for recruiters, both skills can be inculcated in an individual through boot camps and workshops. Training have helped up the soft as well as technical skills of software engineers to be a better asset to companies.

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