Why Tech Professionals Need to Be Good Story Tellers

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As a tech professional, how important is it for you to tell a good story? Lonne Jaffe, CEO of Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based enterprise software provider Syncsort, says the ability can make a big difference in the course of your career. In fact, he told Business Insider he believes it’s especially important in technology, where things can be “very complex, and sometimes people find technical details to be somewhat boring.”

We’ve said before that the ability to communicate is a critical skill. No matter what your role, it’s important to be able to share your ideas with others, whether you’re brainstorming or updating team members and managers about a project’s status. Jaffe talks about “creating a compelling narrative,” which “is invaluable for motivating a team, explaining strategic priorities in a way that’s easy for others to understand, or communicating complex ideas to customers and prospects.” Most everyone, at every level, should be a good story teller, he believes.

So Jaffe probes for the ability to tell stories when he’s interviewing candidates. But of course, that’s not the only thing he’s trying to figure out early on. Time management is another ability he values in technical candidates, he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Figuring out how to spend your time is almost more important in some ways than how well you execute,” he said.

Some might say that a good manager will always make their team’s priorities clear, but the truth is more complicated than that. Team members have to juggle any number of tasks at once. Understanding how all of those things fit together is a prerequisite to planning and doing the actual work. A hiring manager needs to understand how your thought process works when you’re organizing all the projects on your plate.

That brings to mind another skill that’s good to have: Listening. Jaffe talks about listening in the context of evolving your stories based on what you learn from people’s questions and reactions. But it’s important, too, in terms of understanding your manager’s goals and priorities. The reality is priorities compete, and candidates need to show they can make intelligent, informed decisions about which project they’re going to tackle first.

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