As I stumbled towards progress with the Dare Conference (just five weeks to go!), I asked many friends for feedback, which was both uncomfortable and rewarding. The feedback that I found most difficult to take—versions of, “here’s what isn’t working”—was the most helpful for figuring out what to do next. After I’d tried several convoluted revisions, Rachel McAlpine suggested the strap line, “people skills for digital workers,” which captures the spirit of the event perfectly. We’re now in a better place to convince people to come–I’m looking at you–by explaining how developing people skills will help us get better outcomes. Here’s what I learned from the process, including answers to common questions. Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback: you rock.
You have excellent technical skills. Build your people skills to make progress.
To make digital services that respond to changing customer and business needs, you need to:
- work with other people across disciplines and departments,
- communicate your ideas effectively to stakeholders, colleagues, and clients (which requires listening), and
- make tough business decisions informed by the big picture.
You need people skills—not technical skills—to do these things. You need to adapt to change, learn constantly, and cross disciplines to handle complexity. So it’s crucial that we work together effectively, whether it’s within a cross-functional team or between departments.
Are these talks really about people skills? Aren’t they personal stories?
Our speakers are people like you sharing their challenges with you. They’ll tell stories of how they used people skills in their work—sometimes well, sometimes not so well—and what they learned as a result. You’ll apply what the they learned to your own work.
I don’t want to revolutionize my company. How will this event help me?
People skills will help you whether you want to revolutionize your company or get better outcomes as a practitioner. Some digital professionals want to be part of organization-level change, which is awesome. Most of us want to continue as practitioners rather than corporate change agents, and that’s awesome too. If you want to do great work with others, you need the exact same skills as the change agents—people skills—to help you communicate your ideas, work outside your comfort zone, and make tough decisions.
I don’t want to talk about my feelings.
Dare is about the people skills we need to do our professional work, not about our personal feelings. At first, our copy gave people the impression that it would be a “self help” event about feelings. Although talking about your feelings is healthy, a professional conference isn’t the right place to do it (except at the bar afterwards). We’re discussing issues we usually avoid in a professional context—how to communicate honestly, how to give feedback with compassion, how to keep going when things go wrong—in order to get better outcomes. That doesn’t mean we’ll be talking about ourselves the whole time. The skills and techniques you’ll learn at Dare will apply directly to your work.
My boss doesn’t care about people skills. I’m measured on hard outputs.
Your boss wants to:
- ship better work more often,
- spend less time resolving conflict (and more time on his or her real job), and
- hold onto talented people (instead of losing them to a startup.)
Although your official job description talks about technical skills and discipline-specific outputs, your work’s success depends on working together across disciplines, departments, and job titles. Which requires people skills. Your boss might not realize that people skills are an important part of your job, and your organization might prioritize technical training over something like the Dare Conference. We’ve written a “convince your boss” guide which links these skills to the problems your boss faces right now.
Register now and save money.
If you’re freelance, self employed, work in a small company or non-profit, or in full time education, you may qualify for our “freelancer rate” of £299 + VAT for the two day conference. Otherwise you can save £150 by entering the code LUCID when you register.