Technical people tend to have a different skill set than do good managers. We do well with things, and we are less adept at the "people" things. Its not a bad thing, its just what makes us good at what we do. We can work with the specs of a bunch of different components and jury rig a fix until the right parts come in, we can listen to some obscure and intermittant sound and tell someone which wire to wiggle, or bolt to tighten. But people can drive us nuts!
The problem with most managers is that they don't have much knowledge of what we do, or why. But a good manager can handle the peole side of things and enjoy it and be fulfilled. Just like an engineer can when the project it finally works perfectly and teh customer is delighted with the end result.
If you can get a manager that has the great people skills, but has been trained in some of the field which he is managing, it is a wonderful experience.
1-Gives proper and honest credit as due. 2-Manages people by asking them the right questions. 3-Foresees problems before they become problems. 4-Divides the workload fairly to promote individual growth.
I would say both the job is tough, since Engineer's job is to planing, designing and implementing whereas Manager's job it to arrange all the thing according to particular engineer. So both carry eual importance.
Engineers or creatives who can manage effectively have a special combination of talents that most people just don't have.
Most designers and engineers are doers. They like to be in the trenches. And, frankly, some have too much ego to manage others and allow someone who may even be more talented/created to grow. A good manager may not know exactly how it works but does know who the right people are to get it done. The quote in the article from Chuck Blevinssays it best from my experience.
To naperlou's point, it's not one vs the other. Both are needed for success.
Alex, many years ago, at GE, there was an issue with manager vs engineer. We were promoting people to management so that we could pay them what they were worth, but they really didn't (and in some cases couldn't) manage. So, a parallel set of titles was created to parallel all management levels up to Director (just below VP). This worked really well. And at the top level, Engineering Fellow, the pay was quite high. I was in both types of roles at various times. I preferred the Staff Engineer role.
As for the comment from an manager that engineers were interchangable, that is obviously not correct (I was thinking about saying something else). The performance of a design or piece of software or firmware can varry by a factor of over 10,000, depending on how it is designed. I would want the guy who could figure out how to come out on the high end of that curve. Of course, every once in a while I saw engineers who could not design a subsystem correctly. They were alwasy failing the "smoke test". They generally got fired.
Finally, I do see, fairly often, people who own or run a business and are very creative. Becuase they spend too much time on the design part their business suffers. This is the other side of the coin.
I know we need management. Someone has to absorb the profits I create. But I was born to be an engineer and I love it! I don't mind managing technical people to help me do the work. Heck, I don't even mind having a nontechnical person on the team fetching things, issuing POs, selling stuff, cleaning the building, dealing with UPS, creating advertising, and so on. We need to offer livelihood to others. It's the Christian thing to do. But I don't want to run the company. I want to be an engineer. Just tell me what you have in mind to offer to the marketplace, give me to tools I need and a budget to break, and I'm in heaven.
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