Engineering is typically associated with technical skills and expertise but as the world has now become more interconnected, it is crucial that engineers are not only technically sound. As Engineers, you’ll need to build and hone your soft skills too.
Soft skills are essentially interpersonal skills that allow individuals to communicate effectively, work collaboratively, and adapt to changing circumstances. In this blog post, we will explore 6 reasons why soft skills are important for engineers!
1. You’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with people.
One of the most important soft skills for engineers is communication. Engineers will very often be tasked with explaining technical concepts, ideas and problems to non-technical stakeholders, such as clients, project managers, etc.
Effective communication will go a long way with helping engineers build trust with these stakeholders and relay their message in a way that ensures everyone is on the same page. Engineers who possess strong communication skills are more likely to be successful.
2. You’ll need to be able to work efficiently in teams and collaborate with people.
Engineers rarely work alone and you’ll find that team working is very common in Engineering. Whether it’s a project team, product development, an operation team or a maintenance team, effective teamwork is the basis for jobs. People tend to have different roles within a team (Belbin roles) so it’s essential that engineers can work well collaboratively with others.
Good teamworking and collaboration requires active listening, respect for diverse perspectives, and the ability to work towards a common objective. Engineers who can collaborate effectively are always better able to leverage the strengths of their team members.
3. You’ll need to be adaptable and flexible.
The world is constantly changing and with this, engineers should be adaptable and flexible to keep up with these changes that could be in technologies or project scopes. Being adaptable and flexible mean being open minded, being receptive to changes and willing to learn and being able to adjust your working style or approach to meet the needs of a situation.
Some people are naturally adaptable and thrive on changes while other aren’t. Nonetheless, adaptability and flexibility are soft skills that can be learnt if you have a growth mindset. These soft skills allow engineers to adjust to changing circumstances, think on their feet, and find solutions to new and unexpected challenges when it arises. A good example of this change is industry 4.0 in the manufacturing and increasing incorporation in the use of big data for decision making.
4. You’ll need to be able to solve problems effectively
Problem solving is about using logic and imagination to make sense of a situation and to come up with intelligent solutions. Engineers are problem-solvers by nature, but effective problem-solving requires critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to analyse and interpret data.
Soft skills such as problem-solving and analytical thinking can help engineers approach problems with a broader perspective and develop innovative solutions. This skill will help engineers identify bottlenecks and come up with contingency plans to mitigate identified risks.
5. You’ll need good leadership skills to add value to projects you work on and people you work with.
In today's competitive marketplace, good leadership plays an important role in maximising the role of an engineer. It is an indispensable business skill that can position engineers for career advancement.
Engineers with good leadership skills have the ability to influence others, create the conditions that enables other to thrive and a strong sense of ethics and integrity.
6. You’ll need emotional intelligence to be able to stay in tune with the needs of people you work with.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage one's own emotions and the emotions of others. Engineers who have emotional intelligence are better able to build strong relationships with team members and stakeholders, resolve conflicts, and create a positive work environment.
Soft skills are essential for engineers to have a successful and fulfilling careers. By honing these skills we’ve discussed, engineers can build stronger relationships, work more effectively in teams, and develop innovative solutions to complex problems.
Although some organisation provide access to soft skills training courses in a number of ways such as subscription to LinkedIn learning or through company’s own learning platforms, there is still a vast number of Engineers without access to these resources. There a number of ways to build up on soft skills outside of the workplace including signing up the BWEng Elevate-her professional development programme for early careers or reading self-help books like ‘The Soft Skills Book by Dan White’.