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Arkansas State University

Communication for Engineering Managers

Good communication is essential to any social activity — both personal and professional. Good communication skills are important at all levels in the workplace but especially so for managers. All of a manager’s responsibilities, from training employees to conducting reviews and giving feedback, depend on communication. Today’s digital world offers many modes of communication, including interdepartmental emails and reports, virtual meetings, and standard face-to-face communication.

A successful manager must be proficient with all of these modes to maximize company productivity and model effective communication. It is vital, therefore, for engineering managers to develop their communication skills, which are a key focus of advanced degree programs in engineering management, such as Arkansas State University’s Online Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program.

The Many Modes of Communication

Many think good communication simply refers to speaking, listening and writing clearly and articulately. But verbal and non-verbal communication play equally important roles in how you interact with others.

Whether face-to-face with someone or sitting in a video meeting, your body language can communicate a great deal. If your gestures and demeanor do not complement what you are trying to say, the message can become unclear.

Moreover, the way you communicate is very important. Framing reports and feedback to employees in a negative way naturally evokes a defensive response. When people shut down, it can be very difficult for them to internalize feedback and improve their performance. On the other hand, clearly articulating how employees meet and exceed performance standards will reinforce those behaviors and help them feel more receptive to improvement suggestions.

Another important facet of direct, face-to-face communication for engineering managers is making sure it goes both ways. Encouraging employee input and feedback on your management — as well as ideas about how to better meet your staff’s needs — can help you manage an engineering workplace and demonstrate respect for the team.

Downward Communication and Management Information Systems

The speed and availability of digital communication means managers can quickly disseminate important information. This can take the form of downward communication to staff in the form of team guidelines, performance requirements, project deadlines, and evaluation criteria — among others. Managers should articulate this information concisely so employees understand exactly what the company expects of them. Disseminating this information digitally reduces the need for process meetings and increases productivity.

Mass digital communication also benefits effective Management Information Systems (MIS), in that interdepartmental decisions, clerical operations, policy changes, and strategic developments are easier to communicate across the company’s organizational structure.

Encouraging Collaborative Communication

Developing a sense of teamwork and collaboration is integral to managing a productive and efficient staff. Through modeling, one-on-one evaluation, feedback sessions, peer reviews and brainstorming sessions, managers can foster employee collaboration.

Moreover, spatial organization and forethought can improve employee interaction. Many large tech companies are doing away with the cubicle office in favor of group workspaces to encourage communication. Office gyms, cafes and recreation areas enhance casual interaction, leading to stronger interpersonal relationships and more collaborative work environments — not to mention happier and healthier employees.

Good communication skills are essential in engineering management. They benefit interdepartmental collaboration and the distribution of information as well as employee-manager feedback and team-building. Learning how to communicate effectively and foster healthy collaboration in the workplace can help you keep your business running productively and efficiently.

Learn more about the A-State online MEM program.


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