Why does your commissioning consultant need those so-called soft skills in management and interpersonal communication? Commissioning a new or existing building is complex, and doing it right requires a variety of skills, such as obtaining, organizing, verifying and communicating a large amount of information, and collaborating with different parties. It involves coordinating with building owners, project managers, architects, design engineers, facility managers, maintenance technicians, controls technicians, and a wide range of building occupants, etc. Having the ability to develop trusting relationships is a valuable asset, and building this trust in turn requires social skills like empathy, active listening, and self-awareness. It’s also important for the consultant to understand your target audience and be able to communicate with them. Boiling it down, technical competence of the commissioning authority is the least common denominator and a baseline requirement. But along with technical acumen, you need someone with management or “soft” skills. Unfortunately, these do not automatically or often go hand-in-hand.
Soft Skills to look for in your commissioning firm
So what kind of soft skills should you look for? Look at the commissioning firm as a whole. You are looking for an organizational management philosophy committed to hiring, developing and supporting this rarer combination of hard and soft skills; it has to be part of their company culture. You can learn a lot about an organization by looking at how they nurture relationships inside their own ranks, as this will have a direct impact on how well they manage your project – and how well they can work with you.
Engineers who can solve problems, listen and collaborate: a winning combination
Your team will no doubt be led by engineers. And we all know that engineers have long been classified as left-brained linear thinkers who are good at math and pride themselves on being the clever, objective problem-solvers. It is challenging for engineers to keep up with their technical competencies, continually learning about new developments in their field. This often takes priority over the awareness and development of softer talents, such as emotional and social intelligence, empathy, self-awareness, and a good sense of humor. You could argue that these are natural traits, not skills that can’t be learned. We believe that everyone can improve their communication skills by honing their self-awareness and listening skills. Technical consulting organizations understand how critical these communication skills are for developing trust and collaboratively solving problems in any environment. This is especially true when commissioning complex buildings. A commissioning firm with a company culture based on technical competence, combined with management ability and a focus on interpersonal communication skills, provides you with a higher-value commissioning and building turnover process, whether you are commissioning a new or existing facility.