1.2 - Communication

Objective: Ability to demonstrate effective communication and interpersonal skills

I’ve never imagined that I might struggle on this requirement, in fact, I’d be surprised if many candidates slip on this. The guidance starts by saying that candidates should “demonstrate competence in effective communication and interpersonal skills using written, oral and visual media. I like to think I’m fairly proficient in writing, speaking and sketching which covers the main bases there.

The guidance goes on to list a plethora of ways a candidate should demonstrate their ability to communicate via:

1. IT links

2. Produce spreadsheets

3. Produce database documents

4. Develop an ability in writing letters, summaries and reports, both factual and interpretative.

5. Where appropriate develop drawing skills

6. Be able to produce drawings to illustrate concept appraisals, feasibility studies and initial design details.

7. Have the ability to prepare and deliver presentations, project précis or design concepts etc.

8. Have an appreciation of the skills of other professionals in the construction team and demonstrate an ability to work as an effective member of a team.

Looking at items 1, 2, and 3 I feel like the advice might be a little out of date. I don’t know many engineers who have to produce “database documents” and I’ve never even head of “IT links”. As it happens our estimating software is built off a database, but frankly I don’t think being able to use it has the least thing to do with communication. 

Similarly, letters have been mostly replaced with email which is one of the cornerstones of communication in modern engineering. I imagine if I were to take a look at the sheer amount of email I’ve written in the past decade I’d have some sort of Total Perspective Vortex moment and be struck down with inescapable horror at the amount of time I spend hammering at my keyboard in an attempt to keep the business moving. I must have written at least one or two decent ones that can go in the portfolio. I’ve had to write some factual and interpretative reports in the last few years as well, so I can certainly tick off that particular box.

I try to draw for pleasure in my spare time, and I hope it shows in my work. My sketches are mostly of connections, and sometimes of general construction details, but hopefully their colour and clarity of line work makes them stand out. I like them. Owing to the nature of the work of a fabricator I don’t have masses of sketches of concept appraisals, or feasibility studies; we’re usually a long way past those stages by the time we get hold of a project. I must say I do wonder where it would not be appropriate to develop drawing skills though…

With regards to delivering presentations - it has admittedly been a while since I physically stood up and delivered a formal presentation, but I’ve never shied away from standing up in a room and making myself heard, and by Grabthar’s Hammer I do so enjoy making a good slide deck. 

Of the last item on the list, I feel I’m particularly well placed. I have spent the vast majority of my career at a level where I am present and active in regular design team meetings giving me a good all round appreciation of the input of the other professionals. On top of that my Masters degree was cross discipline for the first two years, then specialised for the final two. The “selling point” of that particular degree was really to produce multi-disciplinary consultants, and whilst for me that emphatically did not happen (hence, well, this entire blog), it does give me a decent appreciation of the other engineering disciplines and how they fit in with construction. 

In summary, without sounding smug - I think this section is not going to present a worry to me.