With so much discussion in the technical communication profession centering on making tech comm more strategic and “demonstrating the value of tech communication,” we decided to spend some time and pixels on discovering how to do just that. TechWhirl’s focus for June is “Skills to Survive and Thrive.” Other professions and their practitioners seem to always be at the center of what happens in the organization, so simply having great ideas for new products or services, or ways to deliver them more efficiently just isn’t enough. Otherwise we’d all be CEOs right? What are those folks doing–what skills do they have–that we need to acquire to ensure that our voices are heard, our ideas are acted upon and our contributions recognized?
A certain amount of the cliche “school of hard knocks” comes into play when discussing what skills we need to survive and thrive in the organizations that employ us—we just have to learn through experience. Or perhaps successful professionals just have some innate talent for these soft skills that doesn’t come naturally to those who gravitate to technical communication roles. As we move through the month of June, we hope to prompt a lot of discussion about what those soft skills are, whether you can acquire them and how you can hone them to support your professional goals. Expertise in tools, domain knowledge, and familiarity with the organizational cultures are critical, but without the soft skills—the abilities to persuade, manage, estimate, negotiate, criticize, and prioritize—technical communicators often toil in obscurity, pining for recognition and worrying about the next reduction in force (RIF).
This week’s technical writing poll asks about which of those soft skills you think are most important to succeed in the technical communication field, and in the organization. But we don’t have a corner on the market for what those skills are, so if we’ve missed one that you believe, or know from experience, is important, please take a moment to post a comment, or head over to the email discussion list and start a new thread. Sharing the knowledge based on your experience and observation can only enrich the technical communication community.