Engineers and interpersonal skills

STEM fields are thriving. It is becoming more and more of a necessity for engineers to have excellent interpersonal skills in order for them to have successful career advancement. They are just as important as the technical skills, as they help create a solid well-rounded network of professionals which means that further work/research related openings arise all from the back of solid interpersonal skills.

Communication is key

Engineering is very technical and relies on concise and accurate communication between colleagues. But you will also have to communicate with people outside of the field, such as clients and sometimes the general public, who do not have a technical background. Therefore, there is a need for engineers to be able to have an awareness in order to be able to communicate clearly.

It’s important that the engineer is aware that they have to be able to translate specialized knowledge and jargon into terms that those within and outside your department can understand. Therefore, this means that if the communication is clear, the message and approach is clear so there can be a back and forth discussion.  Due to the highly technical demands, communication often proves one of the most challenging soft skills for engineers. However, there are courses which are developed in order to aid engineers with a skill that is seen to be difficult to master. Courses such as those provided by ice training (link below), present various courses, whether it be online based training with various activities or in the classroom which will actively address areas for improvement in terms of interpersonal skills and how to develop them. The prices do vary between £200 – £500 for ice training dependent upon whether you wish to do the training online or in the classroom – with the classroom being a more effective tool most likely in being able to target areas of weakness in engineers ‘soft skill’ set.


The key to successful projects…..collaboration! 

Engineers are inundated with product creation and being able to execute the service they’re told to do. However, this isn’t a one-person role and engineers, whatever their skill/experience level have to work with other engineers in delivering a service and for the end product to be up to standard, it is never done just by a select few. Collaborating in a team setting is not only necessary for a job seeker and employee, but is absolutely essential. Therefore, if engineers are feeling that they need further training and experience directly in these areas to make sure they are up to scratch, there are courses available that target just these areas. For example, courseera offered by Rice University USA offers various online courses to suit specific requirements.

Being a leader? 

Engineers need to be able to lead, motivate and listen. These are crucial in order to be able to run a successful project. Also, to be able to use your skills in order to direct a group of engineers and make sure the brief is met. As a leader, you must be able to assess and utilize a member’s strength and ability in order to maximize manpower and build an efficient team. Therefore, it is important that the lead engineer has to be able to motivate others if you want those to follow your guidance.

Being adaptable and patient!

From working in a high pressure, demanding position as an engineer, it is evident that one of the key skills that engineers should work on is to be able to adapt and work well under high-pressure situations. This ties in well with communication skills significantly as if there are any problems, you have the initiative to communicate effectively.

Are courses really necessary?

There have been various courses outlined for engineers to develop their interpersonal skills in order to be more successful and ultimately progress up the career ladder. However, it seems counter-intuitive to offer online courses as it seems logical that by learning how to adapt etc you need to be self-aware and learn from mistakes.

If you feel you do need tailored guidance, then the courses that have been mentioned are linked here!

https://www.coursera.org/specializations/leadership-communication-engineers

https://www.icetraining.org.uk/Courses/Business-and-Technical-Skills/Management-and-Leadership-for-Engineers