The Soft Skill of Respect

When I started to work more closely with the product development teams at Redgate Software, I found it interesting that we devoted so many resources to user experience, testing, and other non-development tasks. Coming from more focused groups, this was new to me. At times this felt like an indulgence, and at times a lot of overhead that slowed down the coding process. Over time, I’ve grown to appreciate having different skills in our teams.

Not that we build software in the best way possible, and certainly not the quickest, but we have some well coordinated and knowledgeable teams. We’re still evolving and learning how to put together teams of people and effectively build software, but I think we’re moving in the right directions.

As soon as I read this piece on hard and soft skills, I thought of Redgate and all the non-coding people that build our products. What struck me was how often I’d devalued non technical skills, but the more I work with our (and other) software, the more I appreciate that those other roles are important. The piece rambles and wanders around the point, but I do see that there are a couple important takeaways I get from this.

First, we need to respect others that perform different work from us if we are going to build synergy in our teams. The synergy is creating something that none of us could do individually, or even separately. We get more done by working together and that means we must be a team. Teams only come from respect between individuals, and that includes the managers.

The second thing that I realized, is that it is important to understand a basic level of what other jobs entail. Too often we data professionals have been upset that application developers don’t know more SQL. Many of us learn some of the domain specific knowledge of the data we deal with, in order to talk with customers, produce reports, etc. Following our own advice, we ought to know more about the development platforms, the challenges, their testability, and more, if for no other reason than we can better understand how the entire system works and can talk about it with others

I certainly know that relationships and people are incredibly important in larger projects, which is another important takeaway from the article. We all do need to improve our hard skills, learning to code more efficiently and securely. We also need to remember the importance of softer skills, and the need for a wider variety of skills in our teams. A little appreciation for the need for more than expert level coders might help us create better teams that function more efficiently and help us produce better software.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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