Do we sometimes forget people with all the technology?
Interview with Emotional Engineer Sissi Kamarianakis
Today, we have a very special guest. Our podcast is usually more technical, but this time, we're going to be on the emotional level of construction. Sissi Kamarianakis is our guest and even his job title makes us sit up and take notice. An emotional engineer – what exactly is it supposed to be? We are excited and can hardly wait!
About Engineering, People, and Their Emotions
People are at the center of work – so it is in engineering as well. That's a really interesting statement. Emotions are not exactly what we would associate with the engineering profession. Our guest Sissi Kamarianakis sees it differently. He explains to us how exactly we can imagine his job as an emotional engineer.
Sissi initially studied civil engineering at the University of Bochum, Germany. He then expanded his knowledge with a degree in business administration. Finally, in addition to civil engineering, he also wanted to learn how to work in the areas of human resources and economics. Thus, he created a basis for his work today. He has also completed numerous training courses, such as in system coaching and construction mediation.
There have always been two hearts beating in his chest: one for the technical aspects, which he really enjoys. The other for dealing with people and the enthusiasm of others. So he decided to take a different path, at least part-time. In some cases, he still works in the area of classic estate design, but on the other hand, he is also self-employed and develops communication concepts for urban projects.
What does an emotional engineer do?
What are these communication concepts about? How much do we need something like this? Here, he has a simple example for us. Especially when road surfaces are repeatedly scarified, this causes resentment among residents, which is understandable.
- "If there is something we engineers are not good at, it is simply to communicate the technical facts."
He's probably right about that. We engineers can rarely get out of our shoes when it comes to our work. This often leads to lack of understanding and frustration on the part of the citizens. On the other hand, the defensive behavior of the residents naturally frustrates the engineers – two fronts that pass each other instead of talking to each other, so to speak.
This is where Sissi comes in to make technical issues more accessible. He wants to facilitate communication between engineering and people who do not come from this technical area.
Don't ruin this for me! Communication Problems in Construction Industry
Compared to other countries, building design and construction in Germany is a bit chaotic. In this case, we often make it harder for ourselves than necessary. Departments don't really talk to each other about the common projects, everyone does their own thing, and in the end this, chaos falls back on us all. Plans are carried out twice, and at the end of the day, they do not fit together properly. After processing the building design, it does not look any better on the construction site.
During the studies, engineers are taught how to do their work and how to calculate models. However, they're just not taught how to communicate with each other in the building design phase. Departments or divisions quickly clash, and burnout lurks somewhere. We could avoid that in a few words.
The problems within the project teams that Sissi deals with are primarily of a hierarchical nature. There is often no communication at all between the management level and the people below. Or false expectations are set and pressure is built up. Of course, a team cannot work like that.
Even if introducing new working methods, such as BIM, there are conflicts between the hierarchical levels. Communication is not clear enough here and the defensive attitude of employees does not make it any easier. But how do you rebuild such structures? How do you innovate it so that everyone understands why they are necessary?
New Work as Solution
Sissi explains to us the principle of "New Work", which he himself pursues with heart and soul. It is about perceiving yourself at work. Everyone should be able to dispose of their own time, decide independently, and be part of a positive, functioning community. In this case, work is carried out in a supportive manner with each other, and not alongside each other or even against each other.
In the respect of New Work, a manager should not just stubbornly distribute tasks from above, but should support his employees. The needs of people should also be perceived and valued by the management floor. A very contemporary, modern approach.
Using this approach, Sissi advocates more reflection and rethinking in our very conservative industry, especially at the management level. After all, an understanding of personality development and the right communication are extremely important for a healthy work environment. You have to find a common language, so to speak.
Human Being as Center of Work
To clarify where Sissi's work starts, he asks us a question that he uses very often in his courses. As a rule, he rarely receives a clear answer to this. 90-95% of the participants cannot answer this. And the answer “salary” doesn't count!
- "What is the reason you get up every morning and do your job?"
When answers actually come, you can feel the passion in every word. You can tell immediately that someone is passionate about their work. Unfortunately, only very few people feel that way. This is the emotional level that needs to be worked on first. If the emotions are right, technical success comes naturally during the work.
Sissi explains that his methods are primarily about the subject of reflection. Team members should interact and exchange ideas over and over again. Where do we stand and where do we want to go? Changes in perspective are particularly helpful here. Eventually, the question arises:
- "What are our next particular steps to be able to implement this in our team here?"
This whole process can take a day. But this time really has to be taken, that's important. It is also necessary to discuss mistakes in order to get rid of them. Of course, with good moderation. For Sissi, communication and empathy are the absolute keys to success in teamwork.
Limits of Emotional Engineering
As an emotional engineer, Sissi focuses on the future of a team he coaches. The aim is to find the methods of how the team can work better together and develop in the future. One-on-one coaching or one-on-one interviews are also part of his work.
- "During a one-on-one interview, it turns out that there really is an illness, like depression, and I have to say I'm out in this case. It's not my area."
Here, Sissi confirms once again that coaching is no substitute for therapy. In such cases, psychotherapy is necessary, looking for the causes of problems in the past, in order to restore order to a person's present, living for the day. This is a clear difference compared to coaching. Sissi's job is primarily about finding oneself and group by means of reflection.
Wishes for Future
Finally, we ask Sissi what advice he would give to young professionals. And what he wishes for the future of young people. He tells us that some universities already offer courses on subjects such as mediation or self-discovery and personal development. Unfortunately, this is not yet too widespread.
Pupils and students should pay less attention to their grades and rather find out: What am I good at? Where are my strengths and where can I best use them? However, the subjects such as conflict management are also incredibly important for later professional life. Especially in the technical area, you don't get something like that along the way. Although it is so infinitely important for a truly fulfilled life. Unfortunately, this level is completely absent in normal studies. If there are such courses:
- "This is a journey to yourself – definitely do it!"
Sissi, what is your favorite building?
As an engineer with Greek roots, he is particularly impressed by the Acropolis in Athens. Built 2,500 years ago with the simplest means and still beautiful – we can only share this admiration.
His second favorite building is the Burj Khalifa – if only because of its incredible dimensions. We engineers should definitely show more what we can do and what we do. Because we can be proud of that. Thank you for being with us!
As a copywriter in marketing, Ms. Ruthe is responsible for creating creative texts and gripping headlines.
Dlubal Podcast Emotional Engineer Interview Construction Industry
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