Soft Skills Every Systems Engineer Needs

There are a large number of specialised systems engineering degrees and certifications that one could obtain on their way to becoming, and while being, a systems engineer. Along with these formal qualifications, what soft skills does a systems engineer need to develop in order to promote buy-in, expectation management and inter-departmental collaboration?

Conflict resolution:

Any time when individuals have to work in teams, or when departments have to work together, it is natural to see some conflicts arise between personalities, priorities or systems. How you handle that conflict and guide the resolution will set the tone for the rest of the project as well as your communications with all stakeholders. Conflict resolution involves active listening, showing empathy, staying impartial where necessary and getting the team to buy into the resolution, even if it is not their first choice of outcome.

Stress management:

Between client expectations, budget restraints, tight timelines and ad hoc problems, the day-to-day life of a systems engineer can become quite stressful at times. Make an effort to discover what stress reduction methods work for you – it could be breathing techniques, yoga, journalling, meditation, exercise – and schedule time daily to practice these techniques.

Problem solving:

Unexpected challenges occur on an almost daily basis. How you react on the moment you are confronted with the problem is just as important as the steps you take to correct it and prevent future problems. Rather than blaming a person, team or system, think quickly to identify the best method to resolve the issue and implement it as soon as possible.

Team development:

A systems engineer should be able to quickly identify any need for skills development within the team, be it hard or soft skills. Individuals should be given the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, as this will not benefit the project at hand, but also future systems development.


Especially for processes that take many months or years to implement, it is not uncommon for requirements, budgets and timelines to change. Sometimes with very little notice. A flexible systems engineer will not let these changes induce unnecessary stress, but see them as an opportunity to be creative in their approach to the change, while expanding their own skills and experiences. Being flexible means approaching changes with a problem-solving attitude while keeping the team morale up and taking concrete steps to adjust the initial plan to realistically move towards the new deadlines or goals.

The above are by no means an extensive list of soft skills that will benefit the systems engineer throughout his career. If you are interested in learning more, visit our website to see what soft skill courses we have on offer, or visit our LinkedIn page to sign up for any of our free, 1-hour webinars offered throughout the year.