If you work in the software industry and you wonder what you should improve in order to get better I’d suggest to start with communication, especially written communication*. It doesn’t matter what you do – engineering, product/project management, or marketing – if you don’t invest in communication skills there will be little or no career growth**.
I can sense your first question: “how do you improve?”. Easy – you work on the structure, brevity, and style. But how exactly do you do this?
Well, there are a number of ways. My favourite method is based on a feedback loop approach***:
- You consciously work on writing better while
- paying attention when reading pieces written by others. Good communication is like air: you don’t see it. Only when it is bad it strikes you. But if you look closely at a good piece, you’ll start to see the “ingredients”. Learn from it and use it next time you write something.
Keep writing, a lot and you’ll improve. I’m afraid that there is no substitute to this part. Fortunately, today you have lots of opportunities to practice your writing outside your working space: personal blog, Twitter, Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, and so forth. Start doing it on a regular basis and you’d be surprised how far you can get.
Probably the most important question I haven’t answered yet is “why is it so important to have good communication skills?”. Because it is like the tip of the iceberg: it informs someone about how good you are, it shows the parts that can’t be easily seen because they are “under the water”.
It is impossible to have good communication skills without being smart & analytical, paying attention to details, having empathy, willing to work hard, and shooting for excellence. Thanks for making it so far. Now go and write :).
* I think it is easier to have good spoken communication skills than written ones mainly for two reasons: first, when talking it is easier to get away when making mistakes; second, the live feedback informs you how are you doing – you can go back and refine a point if you feel the audience didn’t get it.
** Good communication skills are important not only for your professional life. Personal life could use them too :).
*** In 2015, one of my goals was to write better technical specs. I managed to achieve this goal by: critically reading other’s specs and paying attention/addressing the feedback I got.