Upskilling engineers with Emotional Intelligence

The surprising value of adding engineering empathy to the team skillset

As engineers we assume that the majority of our work centers around the cognitive brain. We are, after all, building complex logical systems with our highly honed technical skills. The best engineers, naturally, are strong in an array of classic engineering skills — ‘hard skills’ like good math skills, strong time management skills, mechanical aptitude, good common sense, a strong desire for organization and efficiency, creative problem solving and quantitative skills.

The best engineers excel at more than just engineering.

The best engineers excel at more than just engineering. They are not only high on IQ but high on EQ. This means they handle pressure well. They are strong communicators. They are empathetic teammates. They are open to feedback. They use good judgement. And they are kind and emotionally mature.

We feel first….

BigTalker focuses on helping teams build these critical leadership skills. We recently worked with an engineering team that serves as a great example of the value of collaboration skills for complex teams.

The client — a diverse engineering team

This company describes themselves as a typical fast-paced & progressive startup that builds a B2B enterprise software platform. It’s an operations/engineering focused company with attention on regular training, company events, etc. They are growing but trying to do so at a manageable pace while retaining culture.

The request for soft skill training came as a result of their goal to get stronger at collaboration / communication skills and work out a specific organizational challenge that they were addressing. Specifically, they recently separated with a long time team member who was somewhat toxic, which is a very common organizational challenge.

Like most teams, there is diversity among its members. Specifically, the team has some different personality types, ie straight-to-the-point types vs more sensitive types. It’s important to note that the team is highly functional and super sharp. The opportunity is for each individual to identify opportunities for improvement.

Why is emotional intelligence important?

Engineers, especially, respond to a data driven approach. We like to share a few statistics that communicate the importance of building EQ skills:

  • 90% of career success comes from EQ, when IQ is roughly equal.
  • 65% of startups fail due to co-founder conflict
  • 71% of recruiters value EQ over IQ.
  • Emotions drive 80% of the choices Americans make, while practicality and objectivity only represent about 20% of decision-making
  • Only 36% of people can identify their own emotions as they experience them.
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