Jan. 23, 2018 | Press Release

West Monroe Releases New Report Finding Soft Skills Gap is Holding Companies Back from Innovation

West Monroe Releases New Report Finding Soft Skills Gap is Holding Companies Back from Innovation

CHICAGO -- Jan. 23, 2018

West Monroe Partners, a business and technology consultancy, has released its latest study, “Closing the Technology Leadership Gap.” The report investigates the state of soft skills, defined as communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and leadership in technology and IT hiring decisions. Specifically, it pinpoints the lack of focus on soft skills in today’s workplaces as the cause of productivity, innovation and growth issues.

The report found that, while the importance of soft skills has increased significantly over the past three years, many companies don’t train for these capabilities on technology teams – including IT. The study also found that leadership is technology employees’ most underdeveloped soft skill.

“To stay competitive in today’s digital world, business leaders need to enlist a holistic mindset regarding technologists’ skillsets,” said Kevin McCarty, president and CEO of West Monroe. “Some of today’s best leaders come from a technology background, and we need more of them. To remain on the forefront of innovation, companies need to put their technologists in a position to lead. They also must prioritize soft skills and leadership training as part of continued growth and development.”

West Monroe surveyed 1,250 individuals across two surveys made up of 600 HR and recruiting professionals, and 650 full-time employees who regularly work with their company’s technology teams. Key highlights include:

HR Leaders Want Soft Skills (But They Don’t Cultivate Them) 

  • 98 percent of HR leaders say soft skills are important in landing a technology position - so important that 67 percent say they have withheld a job offer from an otherwise qualified technical candidate solely because they lacked soft skills.

  • They ranked verbal communication and collaboration the most important soft skills. Once a hired, however, most companies don’t invest in developing their technology professionals’ soft skills further. In fact, around one-quarter of companies provide soft skills training to line-of-business employees, but not to IT.

Technology Professionals Aren’t Seen as Leaders

  • HR leaders consider leadership to be the least important soft skill for prospective technology hires.

  • Technology employees often don’t ascend the career ladder, with 39 percent of companies lacking a technology background in the c-suite. This absence affects collaboration between business and tech employees.

Lacking Soft Skills Hurts An Organization’s Ability to Innovate 

  • 43 percent of full-time employees say soft-skills-related challenges with IT have negatively impacted their work, which is problematic considering that innovative projects increasingly require employees to work alongside each other.

  • Collaboration-based issues have delayed or prolonged a project for 71 percent of respondents. A third of employees have missed a deadline altogether because of communication issues.


“Technologists and full-time employees are collaborating more than ever, and it’s evident this will continue in the coming years,” said Greg Layok, senior director of West Monroe’s technology practice. “However, communication barriers can still silo these groups and stifle productivity. Businesses must take a two-pronged approach to training - one that not only develops technologists’ soft skills to effectively collaborate with the line of business, but also teaches business leaders a level of fluency to understand the technology side.”

West Monroe, as a company, was built on the mission of developing talent with an uncommon blend of business acumen and deep technology expertise. Through mentorship and learning, West Monroe invests significantly to develop the business skills of technologists, and the technology skills of business professionals—investments that have been critical to the company’s 35% CAGR since its founding in 2002.

“At West Monroe, we take an issues-based approach to help our clients achieve success,” said Casey Foss, director of marketing at West Monroe. “Over the course of our 15-year journey, we’ve learned that the best results happen when you team up business consultants with developers, architects and engineers – what we call our ‘uncommon blend.’”

You can access West Monroe’s full study, “Closing the Technology Leadership Gap,” here.
About West Monroe Partners 
West Monroe is a progressive business and technology consulting firm that partners with dynamic organizations to reimagine, build, and operate their businesses at peak performance. Our team of more than 950 professionals is comprised of an uncommon blend of business consultants and deep technologists. This unique combination of expertise enables us to design, develop, implement, and run strategic business and technology solutions that yield a dramatic commercial impact on our clients’ profitability and performance. 

Media Contact 
Christina Galoozis 
Media Relations Manager

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