Are you pursuing a degree in engineering management? While your technical knowledge will matter as you are applying for jobs, so will your non-technical knowledge and skills. Here are some of the top soft skills engineering management professionals need to have.
1. Communication skills.
These skills include written communication skills like memos, reports and other types of business writing. The ability to communicate effectively in various forms is important for anyone in management. Because managers are, by definition, leading teams and working with people.
2. Problem-solving skills.
Part of any engineering or management job is being able to solve problems effectively. Problem-solving actually involves several different skills. These include creativity, prioritizing and good decision-making to ensure you are solving problems in an effective way. The problems you will need to solve in engineering management will be both engineering-related and management-related. However similar skills can be used for both.
3. Big picture thinking.
It’s easy to become too narrowly focused on the project at hand or the management difficulty of the day. Big picture thinking keeps you looking beyond just today’s issues to see how your decisions and solutions will impact the company as a whole over the long term. Consequently, this will make you valuable to the leadership of your company or organization. And it may lead to more opportunities in the future.
4. Collaboration skills.
Collaboration is working together, and a manager needs to know how to facilitate healthy collaboration and bring the best out of the team so that it can succeed at its tasks. The best teams are not directed by a manager that tells everyone what to do and controls the group output, but instead, they collaborate together, with the manager guiding the team to do its best work without directly controlling everything.
5. The ability to adapt to change.
First of all for businesses to grow and be successful, constant change is a necessity. And fighting change will only hold back a team, a department, or the entire company. Adapting to change, even when you might be skeptical that change will be an improvement, is an important soft skill to have in today’s business environment.
6. Good discernment or judgment.
The ability to discern things about people and situations can help you get the most out of your team or figure out management problems that on the surface, aren’t easy to resolve. For many people, discernment develops over time, with enough experiences and mistakes. So being observant of the management professionals around you and how they conduct themselves can also help you develop discernment.
Finally, studying engineering and management together will help you develop the soft skills needed to become an effective engineering manager. Therefore a master’s degree in engineering management will help further an existing engineering degree by giving students more of the soft skills they will need to lead complex technical projects with a team.