12 Most Essential Things You Didn’t Learn in Engineering School
Engineering school is hardly an easy gig. Between the demands of coursework, labs and projects, there’s hardly room for anything else. Perhaps that’s why engineers tend to “stick to their own kind” — during school and in the workplace. That’s all you had time to do, so it becomes imprinted behavior.
Prior to the economic meltdown of 2008, having an engineering job made you virtually bullet-proof and insured your tenure at your company. No such thing now. Today’s globally competitive economy calls for technical professionals who are comfortable working with business professionals. The bottom line is the bottom line: growing your company’s revenue stream. This responsibility includes speaking the language and learning the mindset of everyone seated around the table.
Are you comfortable assuming this role? Today’s engineers need to…
Communication is the hallmark of humanity.
2. Be powerful
Soft skills are far more powerful than you think.
3. Keep it simple
If only your peers understand what you are saying, you are missing out on inspiring some of your best colleagues.
4. Be inclusive
Yes, you are the smartest person in the room; it doesn’t matter if all you have ended up doing is marginalizing everyone else.
5. Learn from others
Interoperability is important in any system; learn the languages the rest of your colleagues speak: operations, finance, marketing, sales… you get it.
6. Expand your view
Think expanded input-throughput-output throughout your company, not just what’s incoming to you. It’s a big business world out there. Don’t act like you’re too good for it. You’re better than that, so learn about it.
7. Get social
Establish a presence on social media platforms: it says a lot about your willingness to be accessible to non-technical colleagues and collaborators.
8. Become an expert
Your expertise isn’t defined by your job title, certifications or degrees; no one understands the rigors of your education except you and your peers.
9. Be accessible
Your job title and function don’t make you or your tenure bullet-proof. Not in today’s global economy. Accessibility, not professional elitism, may be your most important skill set.
Technical professionals who are willing to engage in cross-functional collaboration provide the greatest value and relevance to themselves, their companies and their customers.
11. Dispel stereotypes
Combat discipline-driven stereotypes of technical professionals as nerdy geeks who play head games with everyone else. Yeah, this is true a lot of the time. But it doesn’t have to be, starting with you.
12. Stop slinging the lingo
Techno-speak and business babble don’t define your value or relevance to your company, clients and colleagues. Speaking in terms that everyone around the table understands isn’t dumbing down; it’s smartening up.
Some of your best allies may be those non-technical professionals you work with. Siloed mindsets and discipline-driven stereotypes reinforce an “Us vs. Them” attitude.
Go forth from your cubicle and engage a non-technical colleague in discussion. Have coffee with them once a week. You’ll be surprised what you both learn from each other. What are you waiting for?
Featured image courtesy of Syntopia licensed via Creative Commons.