44% of top executives believe soft skills account for the biggest part of the U.S. skills gap. In addition to technical skills, engineers must have the ability to work productively, communicate effectively and demonstrate outstanding creativity. Though not all of these skills come naturally, they can all be learned through one simple process: practice.
Here are three critical non-engineering skills engineers need in order to thrive.
The primary focus of productivity is to utilize the capacity of human resources. As an engineer, you focus on developing products and processes that solve problems and improve efficiencies. In order to create more productive technologies, you must adopt more productive work processes.
Engineering requires that you work long hours, so you must stay focused and aim to reduce the amount of time needed to deliver value. To improve upon productivity, you should:
- Define your MITs (most important tasks).
- Organize your calendar and schedule.
- Position yourself where you can focus most on your work.
- Tackle your most important tasks first.
Resources on How to be More Productive:
- 4 Things Engineers Do To Be More Productive via Facile Things
- Creating a Focused, Productive and Stress-Free Engineering Career and Life via engineering.com
You possess strong skills in CAD, but might lack the ability to effectively communicate your work. In engineering, you constantly collaborate with colleagues, customers and upper-level management on projects. Therefore, it is vital that you are able to communicate your knowledge clearly and concisely either written or verbally. Poor communication could result in less productivity, misunderstandings and weak relationships with stakeholders.
Use these tactics to touch up on your communication skills:
- Ask for clarification.
- Have a goal for each communication.
- Keep communications to the point.
- Listen to colleagues and upper-level management.
- Provide full transparency.
- Use the appropriate communication medium.
Keeping open and transparent communication results in better relationships, less miscommunication, and an increase in productivity.
Resources on How to Effectively Communicate:
- 10 Ways to Communicate Better at Work via U.S. News & World Report
- 5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators via Forbes
Creativity is what fuels innovation and ultimately adds value to society. Successful engineers utilize both hemispheres of their brains to solve problems by combining technical skills with the ability to come up with solutions. Having the ability to look at a problem from multiple perspectives allows you to come up with more informed, practical solutions.
Fortunately, creativity can be learned if you are willing to put forth the effort. Spark your creativity by:
- Switching up your environment.
- Constantly collecting new information.
- Resetting your brain with exercise or other non-work related activities.
- Viewing a problem from a different perspective.
- Collaborating with colleagues.