I was an employee of an engineering company for nearly 15 years. There, I worked with great professionals including architects, contractors, government officials, draftsmen and real estate developers. Most engineers are dedicated to their work & field and some of them are more successful at it than others. I often wondered what the reason is for this success. What do they do differently in order to exceed?
When I tell people that I coach engineers, they start to laugh and tell me that engineers definitely need coaching.
I asked them why they thought engineers need coaching. Please find below some reasons I have heard and my own expert opinion. Please note that this does not apply to all engineers but can apply to some non-engineers.
First of all, engineers tend to think linear. Some are certain that the outcome of life can be predicted by making a model of it, adding a few parameters and varying them. Well, life can be unpredictable and the outcome is not always what has been calculated. Coaching can help dealing with personal challenges and challenges at work when life goes “off spec”. Coaching can give support and motivate you to do what you’re good at and to use your (hidden) character strengths to overcome your challenges.
Next, some engineers just want to do their work, their calculations and write their reports. If they are happy with it, that’s fine. But what if engineers want to advance or accelerate their leadership capacity? What if they see their coworkers advancing while they themselves feel stuck? Coaching can help to find out what capacities you have, set clear (professional) goals, focus, to perform better, to work more efficiently and to be held accountable for your actions. This can especially be helpful when an organization wants you to change and if it has been discussed during a performance rating or a personal development plan.
Third, engineers tend to be very aware of their environment and their field of expertise. But, are you aware of yourself? About your own feelings, hopes, fears and needs? For engineers, this seems not easy to measure let alone to express. Actually, it’s quite simple. If I would ask you how you are feeling today on a range from 1 to 10 and 10 doing great & on top of everything? I am sure even an engineer could answer this question without having to calculate the answer!
I often hear that engineers have trouble communicating. Why? All arguments not backed up with hard calculated and measured data is considered ‘soft’ and is often an uncertainty for most. Most of my clients are afraid of the reaction of others when they talk about a ‘nudge’ or an ‘intuition’ why something should or should not be done. It feels ‘safer’ to hide behind the results of calculations an measurements. Then again, you wonder why others advance faster and enhance the development in their life. Coaching can help you to get over this uncertainty and to make a plan to grow in your (professional) life, based on your own capacities. Would you not rather have some control on where to go and how to reach your goals? Make adjustments if there are unforeseen events in life ? Or would you rather let ‘probability’ run its course?
What are the goals of coaching? I believe it’s to become more conscious about your habits, your character strengths and to take responsibility of your own actions. When you, as an employer, respect and nurture the freedom and individuality of your work force, I am sure that they will become more effective and productive.
So, do you think engineers need coaching too? Let me know why….or why not!