Essential Soft Skills for Engineering and Technical Teams – and How E-Learning Can Help
Engineers and technical staff pride themselves on their technical knowledge and abilities. However, there are very few roles that exist in the modern workplace where an engineer can complete their duties in a vacuum. They have to deal with people, solve problems, and deal with change, for example. Therefore, it is also important that your engineering and technical teams develop their soft skills. E-learning can help with this process.
Developing soft skills is an ongoing effort, plus it is the sort of training that you can make available to your team to complete at a time that best suits them. E-learning is ideal for this type of training approach.
With e-learning, you can also make soft skills training engaging and interesting, in addition to ensuring it is relevant to your business and the day-to-day experience of your staff in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
So, what are the soft skills you should focus on? The following five soft skills topic areas are a great place to start.
- Listening – communication skills should start with listening, particularly active listening where you learn to fully hear and understand what others are saying.
- Writing – the nuances of verbal communication can easily be lost when writing, plus it is often a challenge to be succinct and clear. Developing writing skills can help.
- Presentation – engineers and technical staff are often called on to give presentations, whether it is sales, product, or project progress presentations. This is a skill that can always be improved.
- Non-verbal communication – engineers and technical teams can also benefit from learning about non-verbal communication skills, including body language. Understanding how non-verbal communication can impact video calls is also helpful given the increasing use of this method of communication.
- Innovation – engineers and technical staff often spend a lot of their time solving problems but being truly innovative takes well-developed skills.
- Brainstorming – projects and challenges that engineering and technical teams often work on are too complex to be solved alone. Brainstorming skills can help your team improve in this area.
- Research – research skills are beneficial for engineering and technical staff to help them find answers to problems, solutions to challenges, and ideas for how to progress with a project.
- Critical thinking – being able to think and assess critically can help engineering and technical teams improve on their abilities to identify potential issues before they become a problem.
- Self-development – good leaders often highlight the importance of ongoing self-development. Engineers and technical staff thinking about progressing into a leadership role should follow this example.
- Team development – it isn’t enough to just become better individually as a leader, as you will only be as good as the team around you. So, team development is another highly beneficial skill for engineers and technical staff to learn.
- Strategic thinking – engineers often focus on the specific task they are working on, but those in a leadership role need to look at the bigger picture. Strategic thinking helps with this process.
- Change management – change happens in all organisations, and it’s the leaders that determine whether the change process is successful or not.
- Delegation – being able to delegate is one of the most important skill a leader needs to learn, as it often doesn’t come naturally.
- Collaboration – engineering is, more often than not, about teamwork, so engineers and technical staff should work on their teamwork skills. It’s also important to learn how to work on remote teams.
- Influencing – influencing skills can be beneficial in a range of roles, including engineering and technical roles. This skill is particularly important for employees who are not as good as others at putting forward their ideas.
- Interpersonal skills – learning how to get on with people is an important part of being a good team player. Given the amount of teamwork involved in engineering and technical disciplines, this is a crucial skill.
- Emotional intelligence – engineers and technical staff can benefit from learning how to improve their emotional intelligence skills. It is not a skill that is needed when programming, fixing a machine, or crunching the numbers, but emotional intelligence is important when interacting with others, whether that’s customers, colleagues, or management.
- Empathy – there is often a misconception in engineering and technical disciplines that customer service is the reserve of sales and customer care teams. The reality is that your business can really benefit if your engineers and technical staff have good skills in this area, starting with empathy.
- Adaptability – dealing with customers involves being adaptable, including in situations that engineers and technical staff dislike, such as when the scope of a project changes.
- Communication – back to communication, all the skills listed above will help engineering and technical staff with their customer service abilities.
Multiple Options Available
You have a number of choices available for the creation of soft skills training for your organisation. You can buy e-learning courses off-the-shelf, for example, or you can get a course that is developed specifically for your organisation. Customising an existing course might be another option.
All are suitable, although you should consider the benefits of making the training as relevant to your audience as possible. This will ensure you get the best results which, after all, is the objective.
Finally, make sure you optimise your promotion of soft skills training to your engineering and technical teams. There are benefits to the business, but you should also highlight the benefits to the individual, such as improved performance at work, enhanced career opportunities, and ongoing professional development.