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News & Press: General News

Internal Consulting Skills Create IT Leaders

Monday, January 22, 2018  
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In today’s dynamic workplace, internal consulting and other soft skills have gained importance, especially in information technology.


“IT staff are trustworthy advisors on all technological fronts, but we don’t always see ourselves that way. Because our work affects everyone in the organization, it demands that we effectively communicate with customers when problems arise–that’s when having soft skills can be of great value,” says Tim Ranstrom, Chief Information Officer for the El Dorado Irrigation District. “When we can approach our customers with thoughtful consideration, we empower everyone to reach a new height of success.”


Recognizing the need for member development resources in this important area, MuniTech Academy presented its first course in Internal Consulting Skills, November 28 through December 7, 2017.


Technologists can find themselves in dynamic situations that involve customer service and collaborative problem-solving on a daily basis. In such instances, internal consulting skills can facilitate a technologist’s workflow and even invigorate his or her professional relationships. As IT professionals learn to communicate more effectively, they can better connect with peers, develop harmonious relationships, contribute to agency success and grow into leadership roles.


Internal consulting skills delve into matters, such as different personality types and communication styles, that help technologists better understand their peers and bypass conflict. Moreover, they will find that respecting these differences allows them to quickly and seamlessly discover solutions to their customers’ problems. They also create potential to identify and resolve agency-wide dilemmas that leave a lasting impact.


“Prior to taking the MuniTech Academy class about internal consulting skills, I didn’t think of myself as a consultant. I just thought of the job and the people I had to work with to accomplish it,” says Jan Wolf, Global Information System Analyst for El Dorado Irrigation District. “In that mindset, I overlooked a critical component of my job: communication. Now I strive to cultivate a stronger communication channel with my customers, because I know it will allow me to understand their needs and better assist them.”


Effective communications can make an IT professional more well-liked and even advance his or her career. Conversely, professionals run the risk of limiting their careers if they don’t leverage internal consulting skills.


When customers make a request, they’re usually in a tense situation in which their deadline or deliverable is being delayed by a technological obstacle. This may only be exacerbated by a technologist, whose well-meaning intentions are lost in a direct communication style that is conveyed as rude or confusing. In worse cases, complaints may arrive on the desks of management and relationships with longtime colleagues may be stunted.


“I’ve seen brilliant people flounder and fail because they simply didn’t know how to engage with others. You could be a wonderful technologist that knows every in and out of the work, but if you cannot relate to the people around you, you will go unnoticed and opportunities will pass you by,” continues Ranstrom. “IT staff that invest in becoming better communicators are our future leaders.”

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