The biggest obstacles that engineering managers encounter are personal, rather than technical. When working as an engineer, your duties are clearly outlined, meaning you head to work, complete the tasks that have been assigned to you, and deliver them both effectively and efficiently. If you are interested in becoming an engineering manager, your responsibilities will change. With a team to look after and managerial duties to carry out, it’s essential that you know what you’re doing from the offset.
While it can be daunting to step into a management role, understanding the ins and outs and having a solid grasp of what is expected of you can help you on your journey to becoming an engineering manager that your business needs. With that in mind, here is a guide on what engineering management is all about, as well as the key attributes you will need to succeed.
Understanding Engineering Management
The end goal for many engineers is to become an engineering manager. The title can be arbitrary and confusing, especially as it means different things for different companies. To get a better understanding, some of the key duties you will be expected to perform as an engineering manager include:
- Leading and aligning your engineering team alongside the company’s vision
- Delegating and prioritizing tasks to your team
- Developing, inspiring, mentoring, and evaluating your engineering team
- Creating a positive workplace environment
- Collaborating with cross-functional leaders and peers to carry out projects
- Improving engineering efficiency and quality
- Hiring the right candidates to strengthen the business
If you would like to embark on a career in the technical side of a company, additional responsibilities include:
- Driving technical roadmap
- Implementing best practices for development and design
- Providing coaching and technical guidance
In a nutshell, working as an engineering manager does not mean that you will no longer have to deal with coding, nor does it mean you will only be doing people-related work. In most cases, it’s likely that you will do a bit of both.
How Do I Become A Good Engineering Manager?
To perform your job correctly, there are various key skills and attributes that engineering managers must possess. When working with your team, managers, or clients, how you conduct yourself can say a lot about the business you work for. Some of the common qualities that are associated with engineering managers include:
- Ability to work well under pressure
- Ability to adapt to change
- Big picture thinking
- Collaboration skills
- Good judgment or discernment
In addition to the skills listed above, successful engineering managers need to understand and master the art of communication. If you aren’t able to communicate your thoughts and opinions effectively, it’s likely that your team won’t trust what you say and lose respect. Some of the key benefits that are linked with effective communication include:
- Stronger workplace relationships
- A higher level of trust and commitment
- Increase in productivity and efficiency
- Increase in employee engagement
- Higher levels of creativity
- Greater employee job satisfaction
- Boost in employee morale
How Can I Manage My Time More Effectively?
As an engineering manager, you will need to become excellent at deciding how you spend your time. With a whole host of responsibilities to perform, it’s vital that you fulfill them in a timely manner.
Knowing when and how things should be done will help keep your operation running smoothly. When managing a team of people, there are numerous interruptions that will have an effect on how well you perform. Some of the best ways to improve your time management skills include:
- Cutting unnecessary workload – As an engineering manager, it’s crucial that you know your priorities and get into the habit of saying no to things that are not deemed important or can be completed successfully by other members of the team.
- Delegating more effectively – To flourish in this role, you will need to understand the importance of delegation, so the right members of the team are assigned the correct positions. To do this effectively, you will need to communicate your priorities to your colleagues and team, so the project or task you are working on is completed on time.
- Planning for interruptions – Statistically, workers will lose 2 hours each day as a result of disruptions. As an engineering manager, it’s likely that you will be interrupted frequently throughout the day. To help manage your time better, try and plan to complete 6 hours of work.
- Asking for resources – If you are unable to cut down your workload, you need to have a think about what resources and benefits you can gain from other members of the team.
- Setting clear meeting agendas – A huge part of your job role is to conduct and attend regular meetings. The last thing you want is to plan a meeting that offers little to no value, so it’s important that they are structured from start to finish.
How Do I Inspire And Lead My Team Successfully?
Once you have created your own schedule and learned the importance of time management, it’s important that you know how to lead your team towards success. As an engineering manager, you will need to know how to manage your engineers which will not only improve productivity but ensure you have their respect. There are numerous strategies that you can take to demonstrate your leadership, such as:
- Understanding your team’s existing culture – One of the most exciting aspects of working as an engineering manager is that you have the ability to create a unique team culture. Whether it’s by peer code reviews, establishing weekly sharing, or holding meetings, having a positive influence on your team can be beneficial for all. Before you begin making changes to your team’s culture, you need to get a solid grasp of how the existing team performs. Each team’s expectations and desires will differ, so having a detailed understanding should be your first port of call.
- Create a stronger team culture – Once you have a better idea of what your engineers are like, the next step to take is to iron out any bad habits that they have and replace them with good practices. There are many businesses that see their engineers as mere tools, which not only harms a company’s creativity but affects overall morale and productivity.
There are several steps that you can take to establish what sorts of practices and values you should start introducing to your team, such as:
- Establishing a set of values that reflect your business’s culture and vision
- Evaluating your own personal preferences to determine whether they match with the business
- Identifying behaviors that correspond well with these values
- Encouraging and incentivizing these behaviors
Before you go about introducing concrete practices like hack days, weekly development sharing, or code reviews, it’s crucial that you lay down the fabric of your team with robust values. There are several things that your team and you as an engineering manager may value, such as:
- Having open discussions
- Code quality
- Ownership and accountability
To lead your team effectively, establishing trust from the get-go is vital. As an engineering manager, holding one-on-one meetings with your team can help you identify strengths and weaknesses which can help when it comes to assigning roles. There are numerous benefits that you can gain from conducting meetings with your team, such as:
- Making sure managers and employees are on the same page
- Helping employees stay engaged
- Improving productivity in the workplace
What Qualifications Do I Need?
If you are serious about becoming an engineering manager, in order to meet the entry requirements, you will need to undergo extensive education beforehand. The first step you will need to take is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field of engineering that is approved by the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Depending on the type of engineering field you go into, state-regulated licensure may be a mandatory requirement.
You can also distinguish yourself by obtaining a master’s in engineering management online, where you will study a range of modules such as:
- International business
- Managing people and organizations
- Financial management
- Marketing management
- Enterprise information system models
Click here for more information about what the course entails, including admission requirements, course fees, and how a master’s in engineering management can benefit you.
More and more engineers are choosing to study for their master’s degree online, enabling them to carry on working in their field while simultaneously gaining the credentials needed to advance into managerial positions. Some of the benefits of online studying include:
- Learning from the comfort of your own home
- Freedom and flexibility
- Lower total course fees
- Teaching you self-discipline and responsibility
If you have a desire to lead and motivate others, becoming an engineering manager may be your calling. Before you apply for such roles, it’s important that you have the right qualifications, attributes, and experience behind you.
Entering into a managerial role is not for the faint-hearted, so if you can work well under pressure, know how to communicate effectively, and understand the importance of time management, working as an engineering manager may be best suited to you.
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