Customer facing Engineers are required to have highly developed consulting skills.
Challenge: Joining at a crucial time in the evolution of the business, I was tasked with driving a range of newly defined business goals that embraced an overarching commitment to ensuring the highest level of multi-disciplined engineering services to clients across all sectors and from all levels of internal service providers.
As Professional Development Business Partner I worked closely with the Directors and Senior Management team to distil and capture the professional services capability intrinsic to the depth and breadth of staff experience held within the business, and worked to secure embedded knowledge and learning while maintaining and developing high level value propositions.
Solution: This involved revamping an existing program implemented in the years prior. This involved designing an implementation of effective, highly tailored and industry specific training, needs analysis development, delivery and embedding new techniques and tools across the organisation.
It involved high level stakeholder engagement through the execution of tailored training solutions across our offices in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and Canada. Each team required their own unique and individualised components and local industry-specific circumstances to be catered for.
The interesting thing about this project was in every city I went around the world, every time I was introduced as the guy introducing "client centric consulting" skills to engineers, people would say, "have you worked with engineers before? They are unique characters that historically have not focused on people skills." This made me determined to understand what this meant.
Secondly, I also discovered most engineers like to be able to visualise the outcome clearly before they will engage in anything new. Particularly when it comes to adopting new ways of working they have little or no previous experience.
So the challenges were:
1. Help senior engineers enhance their ability to engage their stakeholders and become consistently influential whilst achieving Win/Win outcomes.
2. I needed to understand the unique characteristics of these engineers and tailor a behavioural change program whilst balancing their individual professional development needs, ensuring the company wide implementation of new ways of working.
3. Introduce globally consistent tools and techniques providing a platform for improved business acumen, new and existing client relationships, career progression opportunities and people management skills.
The Outcome: Having designed a course, launched it through the leadership through a global communication plan and set up the first workshops in each office in came the first group. As expected, a few hostages, a few over enthusiastic people and the rest, somewhere on the spectrum in between.
My first realisation was although I knew the content, they required real-life examples to be able to associate the principles and techniques with their own experience. Secondly, they responded very well to a process or formula. Having developed all of the tools using a step by step framework or grouping activities into 3 things about 3 things, this resonated particularly well with the engineers.
Each workshop was designed to build on the skills learned from the previous workshops and everyone was encouraged to practice their newly retained knowledge in their day to day activities. They also met with their manager and team members to discuss their new tools and techniques so as to practice.
Within 6 months this global company had started a business transformation and cultural shift.
As the engineers implemented the tools and techniques they received very different outcomes from all stakeholders. In fact, many began to use their presentation skills by presenting at various conferences as thought leaders and subject matter experts. Numerous people moved across offices to take up leadership roles and profitability increased as project leaders focused on relationship building techniques.
Summary: The 200 client facing engineers went through a personal transformation regarding their "people skills". At first they were unhinged but as they began to explore the possibilities of using the tools and techniques they discovered a new found capability to become influential whilst achieving optimal outcomes for their clients. There is a lot to be said about placing the client at the centre of everything we do. Even if you are an engineer.