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Understanding Engineers 201 Resolving Communication Issues. WFOA Annual Conference September 20, 2007. Communicating with an engineer is only slightly more difficult than communicating with the dead. Lorren “Rus” Stiles, Sr . Presentation Overview. Types of Communication Problems/Issues

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slide1
Understanding Engineers 201

Resolving Communication Issues

WFOAAnnual Conference

September 20, 2007

slide2

Communicating with an engineer is only slightly more difficult than communicating with the dead.

Lorren “Rus” Stiles, Sr.

presentation overview
Presentation Overview
  • Types of Communication Problems/Issues
  • Where & When Communication Problems/Issues Occur
  • People/Position Communication Styles
  • How to Get What Is Needed (Solutions)
  • Questions
types of communication problems issues
Types of Communication Problems/Issues
  • Perspective
    • Education
    • Staff to Staff, Manager to Manager
  • Accountability
      • Engineers: Regulators
      • Finance: Rate Payers
      • Both: Mayor, Council/Board
types of communication problems issues con t
Types of Communication Problems/Issues (con’t)
  • Approach for Projects
    • Engineers: Beginning, Middle, End
    • Finance: Ongoing
  • Goals
    • Engineers: Get the project finished
    • Finance: How to pay for the project
types of communication problems issues con t1
Types of Communication Problems/Issues (con’t)
  • Acronyms
    • GASB vs. PS&E
    • YTD, FY, CY
    • DOT vs. WSDOT
    • TSS, BOD, MBR
    • ERU, ESFU, DUE
  • Interpretation of Meetings
when where problems occur
When/Where Problems Occur
  • Budget Time
    • Instructions from Finance
    • Responses from Engineering
  • CIP, Master Plans
  • Future O&M Expenses
  • Grant Writing
  • Year End Reporting
when where problems occur con t
When/Where Problems Occur (con’t)
  • Stages of Projects
    • Each stage of an engineering project provides different financial information
    • Changing costs of projects cause changing financing needs
when where problems occur con t1
When/Where Problems Occur (con’t)
  • Prioritizing Projects

Political Will Political Will

Political Will Political Will

  • Regulatory Requirements
    • Public Health and Safety
  • Economic Development
    • Tied to Community Goals
  • Opportunity Costs/Scheduling Coordination
    • With Road Projects, etc.
  • Replacement Needs
  • Funding Availability/Rate Impact
people communication styles
People/Communication Styles

TASK

LESS

RESPONSIVENESS

ASSERTIVENESS

LESS

TELL

MORE

ASK

MORE

PEOPLE

Figure from “People Styles at Work”, Bolton & Bolton, 1996

people communication styles1
People/Communication Styles

Finance Officers?

City Engineers ?

PW Directors ?

DRIVER

ANALYTICAL

Less Assertiveness

and

Less Responsiveness

More Assertiveness

and

Less Responsiveness

Planners ?

EXPRESSIVE

AMIABLE

Less Assertiveness

and

More Responsiveness

More Assertiveness

and

More Responsiveness

Figure from “People Styles at Work”, Bolton & Bolton, 1996

anticipated behaviors
Anticipated Behaviors

DRIVERS

ANALYTICALS

  • Cool
  • Distant
  • Formal
  • Conservative
  • Logical
  • Impersonal
  • Secretive
  • Organized
  • Demanding
  • Factual

EXPRESSIVES

AMIABLES

  • Stimulating
  • Unstructured
  • Enthusiastic
  • Outgoing
  • Personal
  • Warm
  • Agreeable
  • Cooperative
  • Careful
  • Quiet

Information from “People Styles at Work”, Bolton & Bolton, 1996

when strengths becomes weaknesses overuse

DRIVERS

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Independent
  • Results-Oriented
  • Candid
  • Pragmatic
  • Poor Collaborator
  • Impersonal
  • Abrasive
  • Shortsighted

EXPRESSIVES

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Articulate
  • Fast-Paced
  • Visionary
  • Fun-loving
  • Poor Listener
  • Impatient
  • Impractical
  • Distracting

ANALYTICALS

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Prudent
  • Painstaking
  • Task-Oriented
  • Systematic
  • Indecisive
  • Nitpicky
  • Impersonal
  • Bureaucratic

AMIABLES

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Diplomatic
  • Dependable
  • Supportive
  • People-Oriented
  • Conflict Avoider
  • Dependent
  • Permissive
  • Inattentive to Task
When Strengths Becomes Weaknesses - Overuse

Figures from “People Styles at Work”, Bolton & Bolton, 1996

people styles in stress

Secondary Back-up

Secondary Back-up

People Styles In Stress

AVOIDING

AUTOCRATIC

Less

RESPONSIVENESS

Driver

Analytical

ASSERTIVENESS

Less

More

Amiable

Expressive

More

ATTACKING

ACQUIESING

Figure from “People Styles at Work”, Bolton & Bolton, 1996

so how do we get along
So… How Do We Get Along?
  • Your style is based on other’s perceptions of you
  • Flexibility or Style Flex
    • Not Manipulation or Conformity
    • Does not mean changing point of view
    • Change your behavior not theirs
    • “Process” of interaction, not “content”
    • Temporary Adjustment
  • 4 Step Process

IDENTIFY PLAN IMPLEMENT EVALUATE

“Style flex is not about changing the other person; it’s about changing yourself.” Bolton

possible solutions
Possible Solutions
  • Use Communication Tools & Techniques
    • Know their “style” and be ready to flex
    • Set up communications plan up front
      • Complexity = more communications
    • Match medium to information request/transfer
      • “Don’t just say it, write it!”
    • Make the time
  • Information requests
    • Formatted example
    • Detailed instruction procedure
    • Follow up

“Seek first to understand and then to be understood” Stephen Covey

possible solutions1
Possible Solutions
  • Set team meetings
    • Kickoff - Share requirements/expectations
      • Engineering - Delivery schedule
        • Help me figure out how to fund it
        • Help me meet my schedule
      • Accounting - Get #s right
        • Give me good estimates
        • Watch the #s – we only have so much money available

“Seek first to understand and then to be understood” Stephen Covey

possible solutions2
Possible Solutions
  • Set team meetings
    • Discuss funding and project risk areas – make contingency plans
    • Explain terminology
    • Regularly schedule communications per plan
    • Identify and communicate early on issues
    • Recognize problems are still going to happen
      • Describe how to manage change orders/contingency budget
      • Collaborate to develop solutions

“Seek first to understand and then to be understood” Stephen Covey

possible solutions3
Possible Solutions
  • Find commonalities/build relationships – not “Us” vs. “Them”
    • Regulatory stresses
    • “How is the project going?”
    • Get to know personal interests
  • Let’s apply these tools

“Seek first to understand and then to be understood” Stephen Covey