Last week’s poll, run in conjunction with Frazer-Nash Consultancy, focussed on some of the softer skills that engineers need for a successful career in an increasingly cross-disciplinary world.
Earlier this year 34 per cent of respondents to our 2018 Salary Survey considered good communication as the skill most missing from industry today. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 46 per cent of poll respondents also take the view that good communication skills are important for a successful engineering career.
Just over a quarter of respondents (27 per cent) agreed that creative problem solving is an important trait, followed by 16 per cent who value building collaborative relationships.
Of the remainder, six per cent saw business acumen as vital, followed by the final five per cent who value project management as an essential ‘soft’ skill.
For Ananth Sangli, building collaborative relationships is a ‘very crucial skill for an engineer, as most projects involve multi-disciplinary functions, requiring many players to work together.’
Colin Scowen agreed, adding: [collaborative relationships] don’t have to be only technical, they can also encompass some of the other soft skills mentioned, as well as skills that are not necessarily engineering technical or soft.’
Another Steve said: “‘Good’ project management skills should encompass all of the mentioned options: business acumen, building relationships, communications and creative problem solving – as well as a strong technical capability. Therefore, the success of a project depends on its project manager and as such to have a successful career in engineering it’s very important to understand and have good project management skills.”
For Bruce Boucher, the ability to communicate includes verbal and non-verbal attributes. “Without these skills you may just as well forget all other expertise, unless of course you can exist on your own in a very dark room and still deliver the results,” he said.
Paul Reeves added that being a good listener and observer of your colleagues – and customers – is a skill which cuts across the listed options.
“And by listening, I mean really listening – not hearing the bits you want to hear,” he said. Then work out the rationale for the thoughts and ideas you have heard – by asking more questions. In this way engineers and problem solvers may uncover better solutions and products that don’t necessarily only utilise their own ‘hard skills’ and experience.”
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