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What Makes a Great Engineering Manager?

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Frank Maynard
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Iron
Re: Team building
Frank Maynard   8/26/2011 5:38:50 PM
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The last paragraph of the article is the key. Great managers are those who serve the people they manage. They provide what's missing. They make the resources available to the rest of the group. They provide direction but not instrction; they specify the outcome, not the process. A great manager realizes that his wisdom can never be greater than the wisdom of his group, and his job is to leverage the group's talents and skills toward the goals and objectives.

In almost any group, you are never going to have a team of 110%-ers. You will have individuals of varying skills, abilities and motivations, and it is up to the manager to find the highest and best use of every member of the team.

Finally, much time and effort has been spent on "teambuilding." While it can be beneficial to a group, it isn't the magic elixir that suddenly produces high performance. It is only one of a set of techniques that is used to improve team performance. If a team is assembled to complete one task, and is then dissolved, "teambuilding" may be more a waste of time than a valuable technique, especially if the individuals tasked with the job already know how to work well with others.

Susan Fourtané
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Iron
Re: Demanding and Consummate Professional
Susan Fourtané   8/10/2011 5:22:33 PM
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" I like a manager that demands the absolute very best of his team and is not afraid to remove those that do not perform."

Ivan, 

A manager can only demand the absolute very best of his team if and only if he has given the absolute very best of himself first. A manager is a leader that shows with the example. No one can follow someone who doesn't show certain qualities and values that inspire motivation and action. To have the right of demanding one has to have given something first. 

Removing those who don't perform well is taking the easy way. The manager is responsible of his/her team If there is a member of the team performing under the requirements it's the manager's responsibility to first see, investigate and identify the problem/reason why that person is not performing.

The second step is trying to find a solution to the problem, helping and supporting the member of his team that apparently is need of help and support. 

The chances are that the member of the team is going to feel the support, encouragement, interest and help provided by the manager and make an extra effort to improve him/herself and perform better as a member of the team. 

Wouldn't you say a manager with an attitude like the one I just described pictures better a good manager, rather than having a manager who abuses his power and takes the easy way without even trying to find out a soulution? 

-Susan 







plieu
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Iron
Great Managers
plieu   8/9/2011 12:50:35 PM
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Great managers know how to get the best out of you and reward you, but also know not to run you into the ground, making you want to quit.

tnek
User Rank
Iron
Re: Team building
tnek   8/8/2011 1:50:07 PM
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Given: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same is true of an organization.

A good engineering manager is one who is able to visualize the need, contribution, and future of a product suggested by him, or members of his organization, above or below, on the organization chart. Communicate his analysis to his superiors, accept their decision, If accepted, he must set in motion the necessary activities within his engineering group to bring about its being.

He must make certain each member of his engineering team is competent in his particular field, can apply his knowledge, and produce results. This competency level must be spelled out as part of each engineers job description, and signed off by them. Levels of achievement must also be a part of this job description.

Now that he has a system of determining what is to be designed and a means of doing so, he must be able to communicate the details of the project to his engineers, assign responsibility to them, follow their progress, provide the finished product design to the next organization level.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Platinum
Demanding and Consummate Professional
Ivan Kirkpatrick   8/8/2011 10:22:06 AM
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One thing I alsways appreciated was a very demanding and professional attitude.  I like a manager that demands the absolute very best of his team and is not afraid to remove those that do not perform.

A high prformance team cannot work well if all the team members are not up to the mark.  A certain amount of mentoring and support is good but in general I like managers that expect you to find ways to succeed and be successful without a lot of handholding. 

BobGroh
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Platinum
Progressive Seasoning - hitting the nail on the head
BobGroh   8/8/2011 10:16:16 AM
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Many excellent comments on this topic of what makes a good engineering manager. Joe Jenney's comments really hit home with his comment about '..progressive seasoning..' When I think of my own career, one of the things I noticed is that 'opportunity' (in the electronics design field, at least) has seemed to diminish over the years.  By 'opportunity' I mean the opportunity to design new products, be exposed to strong mentors, experience new things.  I think that this is partly because of the drive to globalize (where a lot of the design is now being done overseas (although I think that pendulum may be swinging back this way) and the drive to 'specialize' where the engineers are forced into certain narrow disciplines and not allowed to even stick their toes into other areas. 

Othes have indicated that good engineers don't necessarily make good managers (and vice versa). That certainly is true. 

 

 

jmiller
User Rank
Platinum
Good manager = Good Engineering Manager?
jmiller   8/5/2011 10:16:04 PM
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Great comments all.

I think one of the qualities any great manager will have is the ability to maximize the output of all of the individuals who work for him.  This can mean having to adapt to several different motivations, skill sets, and personalities.

With engineers I think there tends to be a certain language that we all speak and I think a great Engineering manager has to understand that.

 

sensor pro
User Rank
Gold
Re: Team building
sensor pro   8/5/2011 12:51:10 PM
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everyone has good points: I like to add that a good manager should know how to hire people that complement each other with small areas of overlap,. This will allow people to communicate with ease and not spet on each other, but help each other.

Also the manager should analyse his team and know how to deal with each one, based on their individual chanracter.

SalvadorRomo
User Rank
Iron
Great Engineering Manager
SalvadorRomo   8/5/2011 10:56:49 AM
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For some reason I tend to believe hard technical skills should be more than just a nice qualification.

Being now retired from a big Global 100 Corporation, I was witness to the value destruction by two of our CEO's, who were big in soft skills, but lack the heart and feeling of a true innovator to provide impulse to a High Technology company.

To me the principles I like ot look after when doing engineering work, including management, are those I read once Albert Einstein's named his 3 rules of work:

1) Out of clutter, find simplicity

2) From discord, seek harmony

3) In difficulty, lies opportunity

With these principles you can have an excellent Engineering Manager, not only to report to their superiors, but to be the top person of his / her organization.

Good article to think why we love engineering in the first place,

Salvador

plasticmaster
User Rank
Silver
Re: Team building
plasticmaster   8/5/2011 10:01:49 AM
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A couple of things caught my eye in this article:

1. "...engineering leaders...can provide a clear and concise vision. They can read between the lines...and communicate an objective that everyone understands."

2. Soft skills are a big part 

3. Leaders give their people the tools to do their jobs properly. They...don't micromanage.

We require our Factory managers to also be resident engineers. This is an exceedingly difficult task given the requirements of their TWO positions (all wrapped up into one). Not only do we require that they are a successful engineer (you know; pocket protector, able to spend long hours in solitude figuring out a problem, and having some amount of the "Rainman" mentality), but they also need to possess a Dale Carnegie rationale that enables them to convince people that they're happy working in their sweat shop for minimum wage.

And then, we employ the "Peter Principle"!

An engineering leader is truly great when they can solve the problem, win the hearts of the people, and continue to impress their superiors. That's quite a skill set!

The person who's determined to measure up will definately need to evaluate his/her employer to make sure that they are equipping him/her with the skills to be successful.

It's a two-way street.

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