A process engineer (PE) has a demanding job that requires them to interface with many different parts of the company to effectively do their job. No one is probably more detail driven than the PE, which makes their communication ability one of the most critical skills they can have. When a process engineer improves their communication skills, their job becomes more manageable, and they become more efficient.
A Techcon process engineer has to be able to walk the line between many different company components. It is essential that they stay in touch with other engineers and process workers as the production requires, and this alone can take some effort as they work to improve the process.
But perhaps just as important as improving the physical process, the process engineer also has to communicate with people outside of the production process. A successful PE will manage to take input from accounting on production costs and apply it to the processes at hand.
Often the PE serves as a point of contact for customers and salespeople, explaining what is possible and what is not. The PE needs to take into account their requests and determine how to work it in during the production process, if possible.
The importance of communication for a process engineer really can't be overstated. Let's take a look at ways a process engineer can improve their communication skills.
Understand Nonverbal Communication
A recent study showed that a significant part of communication is accomplished through physical cues instead of actual words. As a PE, it's best to understand the impact these non-verbal cues have on your communication with others.
When addressing people, be sure to assume proper posture without slouching. There's no need to fold your arms or use other comfort mechanisms, so try to avoid them. Instead of shrinking back, make an effort to fill the space by being assertive and making strong eye contact.
Don't be afraid to move around as you speak, especially if there are multiple people that you are addressing. Try not to fidget, but by moving around, you can engage with different people as you speak. It's your floor, so make an effort to command the space. This makes you the authority of your topic, which can be very important given the numerous details that a PE has to deal with on a daily basis.
Since you are dealing with so much detail, make an effort to be prepared for the message you are communicating. The production process can be very involved, but you have to make sure that everyone is on board and understands what is happening.
The last thing you will want to do is to sound like you are not sure of your facts. It is difficult to look like the authoritative source if others have to correct your information. In many complicated production processes, the wrong information can actually be dangerous.
So be sure that you have your information straight. You want everyone else to take your communication as facts, so be sure that you have them right. The only way you can do this is by being prepared.
Don't Rely on Visual Aids
Today the de facto standard for communicating details during a meeting seems to be a PowerPoint presentation. But it can be all too easy to rely; on them excessively. The problem is that a presentation tends to establish a one-way direction of information, from you to your audience.
Without the natural feedback from your audience, you have no idea how well your message is being received. Add to that the fact that rooms are often darkened during a presentation, and it is easy to see how you lose valuable communication clues.
Use your words directly to communicate instead of reading from a slide. Try to develop a story or other engaging means of communication to connect with your audience. Remember to incorporate those visual cues as you speak, and watch your audience for their own nonverbal cues. By doing so, you will find it easier to stay connected to your audience.
Be sure to ask questions of your audience, and answer their questions. You want to make it interactive as you present your information. But at the same time, make sure that you maintain control of the room. You have valuable information to convey and keep the discussion on track and conducive to doing precisely that.
Ask for Feedback from Those Around You
One of the most valuable tools for becoming a more effective communicator is the feedback from those you regularly communicate with. Ask others for honest feedback about how well you are communicating with them, and use this information to improve.
You might be surprised how much a minor action or habit on your part can impact communication with others. Something as simple as a nervous habit or goto phrase can serve to be a distraction when conversing with others. Given the importance of the details for a process engineer, that last thing you want is for others to be distracted while you are speaking.
Get to Know Your Audience
As a PE, you will see a lot of the same familiar faces. By getting to know your audience better, you will find that it is easier to initiate conversation. Perhaps even more importantly, though, is that you will be able to better notice when things are not running as they should.
While it's true that many processes are automated in today's production lines, there is still a very real human component involved. To be successful, all parts of the process must be working at an acceptable level of performance.
Since the process is your responsibility, knowing the people will give you insight into this human component. Keeping open communication with all members is critical, so get to know them and know what to expect on those ordinary days.
Be a Good Listener
Once you get to know your audience, it is easier to be a better listener as well. All of us have our own way of communicating information, and understanding this is important. Some people can say more in five words than others can in ten minutes. Knowing this difference is an integral part of being a good listener.
You will need to know not only when to listen, but for how long to avoid missing something important. Encouraging brevity can be a useful tool for keeping communication on the production process efficient, but sometimes it will take longer to get the message across.
The process engineer has many functions to perform to do their job at its best. Improving communication skills can make many of these functions easier to do while improving their performance. Visit our blog for other tips and information on being a successful process engineer.