Why Engineers Need Communication Skills, Too

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Engineers are known as highly intelligent people who can understand complex concepts and transform them into amazing products—from software to mechanical devices to infrastructure. (Around the QC office, we sometimes refer to our engineers as magicians. They’re that impressive.)

But engineers are not always known for stellar communication skills. Once upon a time, that was ok because the engineers, like everyone else, stayed in their silos and stuck to their tasks. Communication was somebody else’s problem.

Today, however, that’s no longer the case, and it’s imperative that engineers focus on their communication skills the same way any other leader does.

3 Times Engineers’ Communication Skills Can Make or Break an Opportunity

As roles and responsibilities are shifting, an engineer’s inability to communicate effectively with both internal and external teams can hinder upward mobility, hasten burnout, and affect the business’s bottom line.

1.   Sales Pitches

Nobody’s asking engineers to become sales executives, but they are required to do some selling on a regular basis. Whether they’re selling ideas and opinions to management or supporting a sales rep on a call with a potential buyer, it’s essential that they can present their positions in a clear and effective way. The ability to simplify complex concepts into easily understandable conversations will help create buy-in from both internal teams and external stakeholders.

2.  Strategy Sessions

Today, engineers are instrumental in defining product requirements based on customers’ needs, and this often means having critical discussions with people who don’t have any technical expertise and then translating the information from those conversations into technical requirements. Like all leaders, engineers have to learn how to understand their audience and communicate in a way that is impactful to them, even if it means deviating from their natural speaking style.

3.  Team Presentations

As a business grows, engineers who once flew more or less solo may find themselves in leadership positions. This means sharing initiatives and giving instructions, inspiring team members, and managing through rapid change. Communication skills are the foundation for success in these leadership positions, and without them, managers are less likely to be successful.

Communication Skills Have become Graduate Programs’ Responsibility 

Just like in any industry or specialty, the ability to communicate with a variety of audiences in a variety of settings is critical for productivity, engagement, and professional growth. Unfortunately, engineering isn’t the only field in which communication skills are becoming more and more difficult to find, and as recruiters are desperately seeking candidates with strong communication skills, it’s up to graduate programs in every discipline to fill the gap.

So How Can They Set Students Up for Success? 

Traditionally, organizations looking to improve a team’s communication skills would bring in focus groups, consultants, or individual coaches to solve the problem. But at the university level, where there are too many students with differing needs and not enough budget or time for traditional solutions, there must be another option.

What these organizations really need is an objective view of each student’s overall impact as a communicator and a detailed dive into the verbal and nonverbal communication traits driving that impact.

QC’s data-driven, automated approach to communication analytics offers exactly that, empowering each user to turn generalized feedback into granular insights that drive the lasting communication improvements they need to meet and exceed their professional goals, and it provides educators with the aggregate data they need to create the support systems their students really need.

Engineering may not be a field known for its verbosity, but communication skills are just as critical for the math- and science-minded among us as for anyone else.