Do you have a skills problem?

Speaking of skills development (as we did on this page last month), have you thought about your own skills development lately? As important as it is to worry about the skills of those who work for you, don't forget about yourself.


Speaking of skills development (as we did on this page last month), have you thought about your own skills development lately? As important as it is to worry about the skills of those who work for you, don't forget about yourself.

Our experience with thousands of plant engineers over the years tells us that technical skills are pretty much a given in this profession. On the other hand, plant engineers need an array of nontechnical skills to be successful, and these are the ones that tend to be neglected.

Here are some of the skills that plant engineers need in addition to their technical expertise.

The ability to communicate technical information to nontechnical people. Technical information is often lost on people without a technical background. To promote your ideas -- and yourself -- learn to express yourself in language that others can understand.

The ability to make presentations before a group. "Public speaking" is a frightening experience for most of us. But few skills can serve you better in a world that depends on leaders of teams, committees, departments, and all manner of groups.

The ability to communicate effectively in writing. Engineers are not known for their writing ability, yet clear, accurate, and correct writing is one of the most important skills you can master. An inability to write concise, understandable documents is a roadblock to achievement.

An understanding of financial management. Like it or not, you are or will be involved in the financial management of your plant or company. You need to know and appreciate how your plant creates a return on its assets and how the assets under your control relate to the total business.

A working knowledge of legal matters. Plant engineers are forced to deal with any number of laws, regulations, statutes, codes, contracts, and agreements. At the very least, you need to know when to ask for help.

Well-developed "people" skills. More than most other types of engineers, plant engineers must be able to work with a wide variety of people in a broad range of circumstances. As supervisors, managers, team leaders, trainers, negotiators, liaisons, etc., etc., plant engineers find themselves constantly interacting with others.

The list could go on. But you get the idea. In the rush to develop your employees' skills, don't ignore your own.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
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Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
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Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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