Why Successful Engineering Firms Invest in Soft Skills

By Joanne Blake | Etiquette & Manners

Apr 02

The Ready Engineering Secret to Success

We are profiling some of our clients to share their points of view, business insights and successes. One of our longest standing clients and a fabulous success story is Ready Engineering, founded in 1997 in Spruce Grove, Alberta by Lee and Susan Ready.The Ready Engineering Soft Skills Secret to Success - Canadian Engineers

World Class

Ready, an electrical and control systems engineering firm, is one of only 5 engineering firms across North America to win the prestigious PSMJ’s Circle of Excellence Award 6 times. (visit the Ready Engineering awards page)

Ready has grown to more than 70 employees with offices in Canada and the US. They possess an exceptionally low personnel turnover rate–less than 5 percent–and one of the highest repeat customer rates–about 95 percent. Wow!

So What’s Their Secret?

President Lee Ready talks to us about their fanatical customer service focus and the unique approach to business and engineering that sets them apart.

Q:  What do you attribute your success to?

A:  Relentless adherence to the Systematic, Methodical, and Consistent Practices (SMaC) that we’ve developed. These practices systemize our ability to provide unparalleled solutions and customer service that clients do not often experience elsewhere.

Q:  Why are ‘soft skills’ important to your firm?

A:  Engineering firms expect their recruits to be technically adept—predisposed to technical expertise and it’s easy for us to technically develop them. None of this is true for “soft skills”, but in consulting, soft skills are more important than engineering skills; soft skills are a prerequisite for the opportunity to deploy the technical.

Q:  How do you attract your employees?

A:  We present a compelling offer to make a difference in their career, and then we make every attempt to filter out potential candidates unsuited to our unique culture. Ready Engineering has established a proud culture of entrepreneurial style excellence that inspires both employees and clients to get the most out of their experience. (See “Are YOU Ready?” http://readyengineering.com/careers and click on the posting.)

Q:  How do you retain your employees?

A:  In negotiations lingo, we provide them a superior BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). We are confident that our culture, opportunities, and remuneration are in the top quartile of the industry, and this is apparent from our low turnover rate (5%).

Q:  How do you motivate your employees?

A:  We do not. We make a conscious effort to avoid incentives and other forms of extrinsic motivation. Instead, we rely on professionalism and a person’s intrinsic motivations to guide them in their career and lifestyle choices; to do what they were born to do, and to do it within Ready.

Our team members are encouraged to become industry-leading technical experts OR, if they have an entrepreneurial attitude, to run the best-managed consulting business in the world.

Q:  Why do you invest in Style for Success training?

A:  Our recruitment process filters for engineering candidates that “have a hope” in the soft skills department. Then, our Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) program acculturates new hires using the consistent methods that we’ve proven over the years. Style for Success is an integral part of our BIOS program and SfS is far better at delivering this content than we are.

Q:  How do you recruit new team members?

A:  Historically, we’ve always relied on referrals and locals with the gumption to walk into our offices. Today, we’re too large for such an ad-hoc recruiting process. Now, we also systematically recruit at campuses via postings and career presentations.

I should note that our recruiting program is only half about recruiting—just as important is setting the idea for every candidate that does not join Ready, that the day they need an electrical engineering consultant they will call Ready first.

Q:  What differentiates Ready from its competition in the eyes of its customers?

A:  In short, it’s our Action Workflow framework for communication between customers and team members. Knowing how to communicate effectively is central to Ready’s success.

New customers come to Ready for our technical expertise however; existing customers come back for our unparalleled ability to satisfy their business needs through effective communication.

http://readyengineering.com

PS from Joanne –

We’re proud to have Ready Engineering as a client and that they continue to send all their new hires to our Complete Professional one-day seminars. FYI  we are presenting soft skills sessions at the Consulting Engineers of Alberta CEA’s 1st. Young Professionals Conference and Professional Presence for Engineers – for APEGBC Association of Professional Engineers & Geoscientists of B.C in Vancouver in June.

Posted by Joanne Blake – Business Image & Etiquette Consultant and Soft Skills Trainer

About the Author

JOANNE BLAKE Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.