CivilStructural.com.my 25 Aug 2013
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Meeting for civil and structural engineers!(Intermediate)

It is commons that meeting to be held before, during and after a project being constructed. There are a number of agendas discuss in meeting. The agendas will not end until project has passed the defect liability period. Some time, it still held some meeting after the defect liability period. Some meeting is held “peacefully”, some is “argument” even some is “fighting”. Some of meeting is held punctually, some with delay, some will call immediately. The talk of each person in meeting will decide the environment of meeting. Certain person will talk gently, angrily, funny, quarrel. As a civil and structural engineers especially fresh graduate engineers; how to prepare themselves to attend such meetings?  Below are some tips on meeting.

First of all, get prepare before go for meeting. It means that you have to go through last meeting agendas. Check whatever tasks that need to complete before next meeting. If you are not the only person who involves the meeting, you have to check with the person. At least, you need to know what the progress of a task is. So, during next meeting, you can easily answer this task accordingly.

Bear in mind that, no one will like to a person that being questions and reply with “I do not know”. If you are not clear about an issue being discussed, it may be good that you tell the chairman that you will note down and refer back to them by a certain dateline. Do not tell them that you will reply by next meeting. It is better to attend the issue before next meeting.

Be concentrated only on your own items. Do not over step into other people issues. Especially you are not experience in. For example, when discuss on M&E issue, you should not comment anything on it because you are not the expertise.  Let the M&E engineer to answer. One word for you may cause the M&E engineer trouble, and you will create unhappy environment. You may make people do not like you. If all people not like you, then you will be in trouble and no one is willing to help you.

Try to make some harmony environment in meeting such as has some chat with others who have arrived while waiting participation. Get some normally topics to chat such as current news. It is good to has closer relation each others. In the event you are not attending a meeting, others who attend will help you to note down you issues and pass to you later.

When attend some site meeting, it is often that there will be some problems being discussed. Contractor who brings up problems in the meeting will always hope that the problems can be resolved immediately. If you can immediate resolve it at meeting, it wills bring up you image in the meeting. Somehow, if you are unable to resolve, and need to discuss with you superior, then you need to get prepare to answer a due date. Contractor will always ask you when you can be ready. Decision of the due date is mainly based on you working experience. The more experience you have, the better due date decision is. If you are not providing a due date, it may cause chaos in meeting.  Contractor may claims that he will has losses due to YOU. So you have to beware of this.

The common questions arise like “When you can ready?”, “When you can finish?”, and “My construction works has to stop” The time frame has to base on your own judgment. As for example; if you receive a new design such as TNB substation, immediately you have to know when your office can prepare drawing for construction. If contractor claims that works has to stop, then first of all; you have to analysis whether the works are really stop. If is stopped, then you have to immediate check any other works that contractor can work on. Then direct contractor to that particular works. Claim that no stop works.

Try to make punctual for meeting, if you are always late in meeting. You image will be affected. Do not let people to wait for you. When you are really late, make apologize to chairman and others. Do not provide reason that you are late due to you are late come to attend. People will think that you are not serious about the meeting.  

The way of answering a question is important on meeting environment. As for example, if client complaint that your design is heavy design. And request you to redesign. How will you answer? There are few ways to reply; such as “My design is final and cannot be changed”, “I will look into it and come back to you”.  The later answer will has better close up on answering. No doubt you cannot change the design, at least you tell client you have look into it. Client may think you that you have do some further work on it. Client will appreciate it. If is the first answer, client may think you that you are not a person can reconsider a design. Two approaches has difference outcome, but with same answer.

Nowadays, clients are more demanding. As and civil and structural engineer who providing engineering services. It is good to entertain any requests from clients. Do not directly reject any requests for clients. You have to do some works before come back to them.

When a meeting held is very long period, you have to better attend until end of meeting. Sometime, in certain cases; you may need to leave early. What should you do? Actually you can request to chairman for earlier move. Request chairman to move to your agendas and finish them, but it should not be applied to often, because it may cause other parties not happy. If the meeting only has one short agenda for you, you can request chairman to move you agenda to first item. And finish it earlier so you can leave.

When you are not sure about something, do not commit it in meeting. Please bring back and refer to someone for answer. If you commit something and works get wrong afterward, then it is your responsibility about it. It may involves hundred, even more thousand of ringgits. Who will bear this cost?

Certain contractors may try to show that they are professional contractors. They may use engineer as victim. They try to put up as much as problems to engineer to resolve. For junior engineer, he may frighten to attend such meeting, because he is not experience enough. For such case, it is good that a senior engineer may accompany with him for meeting. So he can learn some of technique on troubleshooting problems in meeting.

With some of tips mention above, engineers may gain some “meeting” knowledge that may help him for meeting “wars”.

 

Written by scchee
Disclaimer: the above article is based on writer personal opinion on civil and structural field. It will not represent any ultimate solution of any mention subjects. Writer will not responsible for any causes arise.

Reading level: Intermediater.
(Updated 10/11/08)
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