When we think of competent engineers very often sound technical skills is what comes to our mind. We somewhat believe that they must be equipped with hard technical skills in order to solve and deal with real life complexities of the maths or science. Technical skills can be taught or learned but what makes an average engineer stand out from a competent one are the soft skills.
Soft skills help you advance and navigate through various professional scenarios and to move up the career ladder. Communication, collaboration, leadership, adaptability, creativity, complex problem solving, people management, growth mindset, highly organized and integrity & work ethics are essential soft skills to stand out as a successful engineer. Hiring managers and employers are always on the lookout for these soft skills during their assessment of candidates or when considering promotion of their employees. It is unlikely an engineer will be able to climb the career ladder unless he or she cultivates such skills. Fortunately these soft skills can be honed and not difficult to master.
Professionals tend to underestimate the importance of everyday actions such as speaking, writing and listening. However those that are successful engineers are most often good communicators. With lack of communication skills, one will not be able to perform effectively in their role. It’s with good communication skills; one can nurture strong working relationships with their peers, manage conflicts at workplace and build networks. This will enhance and solidify your professional network in the present and for the future.
Engineers often deal with stakeholders and clients on projects. These dealings are often fraught with room for misunderstanding. Good writing skills and presentation skills will enable one to put across their ideas effectively and for successful buy ins. Good listening skills makes problem solving much easier and effective.
Moreover, sound communication skills are the first step towards effective leadership.
In today’s working world, partnerships and collaborations create synergy. Engineers no longer work by themselves. Instead engineers constantly collaborate with fellow peers and partners to work on projects. Team work or collaborating skills go hand and hand with communication. Being able to communicate and participate as a team with people from different background leads to a better work atmosphere, and as a result, better output. Employers often favour employees who exhibit such an essential trait.
Leadership is a collective skill set rather than a single trait. It is all encompassing of an effective communicator, coordinator, sociable personality, motivator, managing conflicts and being influential. Having the mental horsepower to interpret information and confidence to trust in the decisions they make and follow through with them will see through one up the career ladder with more ease.
It is not just technology that is progressing but international market forces and business trends. With the current evolution of industry 4.0, work environment is ever dynamic with constant shifts and changes. A professional must be fluid and flexible to adapt to the changes or market needs. Having the ability to identify the problems and adapt their approach to meet the demands of an ever-changing environment is vital to staying competitive. Plans may change, projects may be tweaked. During periods of change or transition, being able to assess the situation, think on their feet and finding solutions greatly demonstrate a skilful engineer. Engineers who are unable to keep up and remain rigid will inevitably become stale in their approach and may not be able to reach their full potential. .
Applying creativity results in “thinking out of the box”, which means that given conventional rules and restrictions are left aside in order to find unique solutions. This is the driving force behind innovation. A mediocre engineer works to design things and processes, improve utility and troubleshoot problems. A creative engineer will be more resourceful, who can arrive at results with greater speed and efficiency. This will make one a more valuable asset in an organisation.
Complex problem solving
Problems both foreseen and unforeseen are faced in our everyday work. A lot of the work in problem solving involves understanding what the underlying issues of the problem really are – not the symptoms. Being able to identify, analyse and generate solution is highly sought after by employers as many companies rely on their employees to identify and solve problems. A competent engineer is not fazed when dealing with complex problems or difficult situations at work but rather handle the problem efficiently and in a timely fashion.
It is a known fact an engineer never works alone. It is not just important to have good communication skill but also good people management skill. People management skill extends beyond communication and collaborative approach. It involves understanding the background of different peers working in the team or project and what they have to offer. It helps to harness the strengths and weaknesses of the team. It enables high team morale, prevention of conflicts and miscommunication and result oriented approaches. People are more willing to work towards a common goal when they are managed well.
With so many technological advances, it is vital to be kept up to date of current industry knowledge and technical skills. One must constantly seek to upgrade their technical skill sets and understanding of not just their own sector but other sectors too. A good engineer is also one who is willing to work with new people in new environments as they recognise there is an opportunity to grow in every new situation.
Time is of essence in the industry. When projects are initiated, they often run on tight timelines. Not meeting the deadlines for completion can cost the company a lot of money as companies are committed to fulfil projects on the given budget and timeframe. As an engineer, one will often be working on multiple projects at any given time. So being highly organised will not only save a lot of time and will enable one to maximise their time.
Integrity and work ethics
A capable engineer is one with strong integrity and ethics. They are committed to delivering great results and do what they say. This strong sense of integrity develops a sense of trust among team members and business partners. Strong professional conviction will always enable them to put their best foot forward in any given situation.
Soft skills fulfil an important role in shaping an individual’s personality by complementing his/her hard skills. It is these skills that set apart the noteworthy engineers.