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No One Wants to Work With a Jerk

Kupe_March1The debate rages on about technical skills versus the other skills. You know the one about the hard skills of our profession vs. the soft skills of our profession. Which is more important and why. This never gets old for me. As I thought of this title and topic, I realized I wrote about this once before in my post, Will the Real BA Foundational Skills Please Stand Up. Today’s conversation extends that idea.

In the business environment we are always looking for ways to stand out from the crowd and get that desired promotion or additional responsibility or in some cases stay off the chopping block. How do you do that? Do you fine tune your Use Case writing ability or draw better looking workflow diagrams? Yes, if communicating the requirements improves. No, if your goal is to say I can use more symbols than the next guy. Having experience and knowledge of accepted practices is an entry point for most mid level BA jobs and definitely for senior positions. You have to have these skills, be proficient with them, and you have to stay up to date with new techniques that arise. But you hone these skills enough for parity. You need to be able to meet expectations here, but over achieving is not necessary.

Where you do need to over achieve is in your communication skills, your interaction skills, your leadership skills, mentoring skills, etc. Why, because people do not want to work with jerks. Plain and simple, people want to work with those they like and connect with. Think about who you like to work with? Who do you not like to work with? I bet you the ones you don’t like to work with have some jerk quality to them. Are the smartest most technically qualified people the ones you want to work with all the time? Last week I was speaking with a manager that said if an employee is a jerk they are useless to his team regardless of their technical ability. In our environment we rarely have positions that do not require collaboration and teamwork. If someone is a jerk they kill collaboration and teamwork. Their technical skills usually can not compensate for the overall impact they have on the team. If you follow US football you know Terrell Owens, wide receiver, fits the bill of the jerk with great technical ability. In his prime he was the best receiver out there. But he bounced around teams because he was a detriment to the team. His number of catches and touchdowns was just not enough for teams to keep him around.

The next question that comes to mind for me is the timing of developing your hard and soft skills. In the early stages of your career you need to work on the technical aspects to get to the parity level with your peers. But, don’t just focus on the technical aspect. For every technique you learn you should be learning best ways to elicit the information to use the technique, you should learn how to best communicate the results to different stakeholders. Once you feel you hit parity with the necessary techniques go hard for the softer skills. Work to be viewed as the best communicator, the one everyone comes to for advice, the leader of your team or group.

I want to hear your thoughts. Let’s debate and learn from each other. Just don’t be jerks about it!

To your success,


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