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Why confidence is essential in the modern workplace - even if you’re not on the front line

Barry O’Loughlin of Nostra on why clear, confident communication is a must.

THERE ARE PLENTY of confidence-building courses, self-help books, YouTube videos and podcasts aimed at people who are in high-profile positions. Positions where public speaking or sales, for example, is part of their everyday job, and they need to be excellent at it.

But what about the people who aren’t on the frontline? Maybe you’re an introvert engineer, a solid but shy IT guy, or a quiet creative?

In a connected world, there is an increasing need for backline staff and technical workers to interact with clients and potential customers. Now that workers are becoming more technically literate, the barriers between the ‘office floor’ and ‘the IT department’ are starting to dissolve.

With this new workplace dynamic, people who are experienced in the art of communication and confidence have had to quickly learn the language of tech – whether that’s knowing your CMS from your HTML, or figuring out how to add someone as an administrator on your company’s Facebook page.

Most non-techies have adapted very well with support from their companies. But does it work the other way around? What about technical staff who are now tasked with up-selling to a client or giving a presentation on their latest data security feature to a bunch of ‘lay people’?

Many roles today require a broader skillset and, therefore, there is an increasing need to develop confidence in areas other than your primary role.

One tech company that takes the principal of interpersonal skills seriously is Nostra, an Irish owned information and communications technology company based in Lucan, Co Dublin. We spoke to the company’s COO, Barry O’Loughlin about why recruiting staff who can “break down barriers between complex IT solutions and practical decision making” is key to their success.

“Recruitment is always a challenge for us because we focus on so much more than just the technical skills,” says Barry. “The soft skills of the candidate are essential for us, and we need to be sure that all new team members will align to our cuture and live and work to our values.”

Those values, according to Nostra, are wellbeing and development; accountability; teamwork; honesty and integrity; and customer first.

“We like to think that the team members we recruit for have natural customer service skills and intuitively live our ‘customer first’ Nostra value. The technical skills added to this can sometimes mean a lengthier recruitment process, but at the end of the process we have exceptionally talented and skilled people who build great relationships with our customers and other team members.”

So, what are Barry’s top tips for developing confidence if it’s not necessarily in your nature?

1. Practice delivering clear messages. In our business, the client wants to get to the solution fast, they don’t need to hear the reasons why other solutions are wrong. They need to understand as simply as possible the business case, the solution and the return on investment.

2. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Toastmasters is great for confidence. Some of our team members use it to boost their confidence and have had great success.

3. Make self-development a priority. I am a very strong believer in self-development and allocate time to it on an ongoing basis. I believe that personal development helps me be a better person, professionally and personally. I think everyone should have a personal development plan. At Nostra, we aim to have one in place for our team members, but they need to drive it with us.

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