As anybody in IT can attest, the skills gap companies are facing is real, and it\u2019s getting more pronounced. The Great Resignation trend is hitting IT hard. Nearly 90% of all employers either already have a shortage or expect to face one within a few years. And a third say the problem has already grown worse over the past year alone.\n\nEmployers are approaching the skills issue proactively. They\u2019re offering more perks to attract highly qualified applicants, of course. Many are also setting up certification programs to arm their work forces with more of the IT \u201ctechnical skills\u201d that are in high demand \u2013 everything from networking to technical support to machine learning to cybersecurity and analytics.\n\nEfforts like these can help raise the technical skill levels inside organizations. But they won\u2019t ensure that IT teams have the broad range of skills, knowledge, overall business acumen and emotional intelligence they need to meet tomorrow\u2019s challenges.\n\nTo manage increasingly complex IT environments, organizations need to add more of the \u201cpower skills\u201d that aren\u2019t usually associated with the IT profession. These include the interpersonal skills that enable teams to go way beyond tinkering with technology \u2013 everything from workplace collaboration to leadership to critical thinking. These are the skills that enable teams to make technology work optimally for the organization itself.\n\nTo a certain extent, these types of power skills are innate; certain people just seem to perform them better than others. But these skills can also be taught. And many organizations are building up skill levels in these areas by taking advantage of flexible, anytime, anywhere, learning-as-a-service models that enable workers to develop on the fly.\n\nHere are six nontechnical talents your staff should be skilled up on, and how you can teach them:\n\nCollaboration \u2013 Promoting Teamwork\n\nIn sports, teams that play together well generally have an edge over those who don\u2019t. The same applies to tech organizations. \u201cTeam players\u201d collaborate with each other on tasks, mentor each other and focus strategically on solving problems that hold back the larger group. Managers are responsible for creating a team dynamic. But individuals can learn what it takes to collaborate. Courses can focus on conflict management techniques, listening, assessing group dynamics, carving out a productive role and applying individual expertise to organizational goals. \n\nCritical Thinking \u2013 Digging into a Problem with a Broader Perspective\n\nTo perform effectively in their job, IT managers need to bring a lot of skills to the table. It\u2019s not enough to just punch the clock and check off items from the to-do list. It\u2019s important to think \u2013 deeply and broadly \u2013 about potential problems and how to solve them. Management training courses often devote segments to critical thinking skills. Concepts like analytical thinking, open-mindedness and self-regulation are central to the act of problem framing in a technology environment. This involves committing to gathering the best information, regardless of source, and shedding biases when it comes time to make a decision. Developing a sound critical thinking process establishes trust from peers and helps individuals keep aligned to the bigger picture.\n\nLeading Through Ideation \u2013 Building Collaboration into the Process\n\nWhile leaders have the final say, they can\u2019t be the only ones talking. Others need to contribute ideas, and let the group decide on the right one to pursue. This requires an organizational commitment to ideation. Both managers and team members need to prioritize the practice \u2013 and work on it. There are techniques to employ that may seem obvious, but they can be taught. Brainstorming, for instance. Workshops can teach ways to create structured processes that encourage out-of-the-box proposals, keep contributors focused, collect ideas, track progress and develop feedback loops. Another technique \u2013 \u201cbodystorming\u201d \u2013 encourages participants to act out situations and put them in the user\u2019s place. Teams that use their ideation skills to the fullest solve problems more quickly and effectively than those headed by autocratic leaders.\n\nPracticing Inclusiveness \u2013 More Points of View Generate More Value \n\nIn society the term \u201cinclusiveness\u201d has focused on acceptance of individuals regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. It can be seen as even more broad-ranging \u2013 the ability to blend with others that are different from you in any way. This is a skill. The workplace is a melting pot of people with different experiences, approaches, talents, problem-solving abilities and work styles. Being able to listen to others, help others and be helped by others helps organizations advance overall levels of innovation.\n\nProblem Solving \u2013 Removing Roadblocks Before They Happen\n\nWork can be seen as a series of sequential, interconnected problems that need to be solved to ensure a smooth flow of progress. Inability to solve one problem invariably backs up the whole process. There are problem-solving techniques that can break the logjam. One that\u2019s being taught across disciplines is to address specific issues in a journalistic who-what-where fashion. Who is most affected by this problem? What does this problem prevent from moving forward? Where did this problem take place? When does it take effect? Why is it happening? How is it affecting workflows and team members from being productive? Performing effective problem-solving helps individuals lower stress levels and remove roadblocks to eventual success. \n\nDecision Making \u2013 Ideation to Execution\n\nIdeas are helpful, but they won\u2019t benefit the organization\u2019s mission if the best ones aren\u2019t put into action. Decisions need to be made. Leaders, of course, have to control the big, sweeping moves, but rank-and-file technologists need to successfully decide how to move tasks forward on their agendas. How can they do that better? Courses and workshops can focus on specific decision-making techniques. Here\u2019s one string to follow: 1) Identify the problem; 2) Gather relevant information; 3) Brainstorm possible solutions; 4) List potential consequences; 5) Make a decision; 6) Take action. Making timely, well-informed decisions advances business objectives and prepares each contributor to take on more responsibility.\n\nConclusion\n\nCompanies are only as effective as the people they employ. The technology sector is currently facing challenges recruiting and keeping qualified workers. Moving forward, they\u2019ll need to double down on efforts to develop skills from within \u2013 not just in technologies themselves but also in the skill areas that advance the organizations as a whole.\n\nFor more information, visit HPE Education Services \n\nAbout Drew Westra\n\nDrew Westra is a Worldwide Marketing Leader in HPE Educational Services, with over 25 years' experience in the information technology, telephony and wireless industries. As an entrepreneur, he has also successfully developed several small businesses into thriving organizations.