As an engineering manager, you will want to do all that you can to help your firm to find success and compete at a higher level. You will want to excel in your role, get the most out of your team, and achieve your targets, but this is easier said than done in what can be an extremely challenging role and a competitive industry. So, what advice is there for engineering managers to help them to thrive? Keep reading for advice on how you can find success as an engineering manager and take your firm forward while getting the most out of your team.
Take Your Time with Recruitment
When you make the transition into management in engineering, your priority is no longer coding but instead building and maintaining a team. This is a real challenge, and the key area is recruitment as you need to find people that will be a good fit, hardworking and skilled. This can take some time, which is why you should always take your time with the recruitment process and avoid rushing to fill vacancies. Keep in mind that you can always develop staff, but things like work ethic cannot be taught, so you need to try and find people that have the right attitude and will be a positive addition to the team straight away.
Use Training & Development
Leading on from this, you should always be looking to train and develop your team. It is worth meeting with each team member and identifying what their career goals are, and then try to help them to achieve this within the business. Training and development are smart because not only are you improving the abilities of your team and taking the business forward, but this should also help to keep staff happy, loyal and motivated.
Offer Positive Feedback
A good manager will also understand the value and importance of regular positive feedback. You should not wait until an appraisal to give positive feedback, and even something small like a “good job” can have a powerful impact on the entire team. Feedback should always be genuine, and you should not shy away from constructive criticism (although this should always be done in private). When you give regular feedback, it helps staff to understand where they are and what is expected of them and can help to create a stronger bond.
Use Goals & Targets
You should also be setting short, medium, and long-term goals as a way to motivate staff and ensure that progress is always being made. You can set individual, team, and business goals and then make sure that you are tracking these. When goals are achieved, you need to celebrate the achievement as an entire team to lift morale and develop a culture of working hard but also celebrating achievements.
Use Team Building
Following on from this, team building is incredibly important when it comes to engineering. Engineering is always a group effort with many moving parts on each project, so in order to succeed, you need to have a team that works well together. Using team-building activities and informal social events is a smart way to create stronger bonds between staff, lift morale and make work more enjoyable for all.
You cannot force people to get along, but regular team building and encouraging people to communicate with one another will always help and create a positive workplace culture. Keep in mind that a manager will always be seen as separate, and this is fine as people need to see you as a boss before anything else, but you can still get involved with team building activities, and you should show an interest in your team members.
Analyze The Competition
As a manager, you should not just be focusing on your own company as there is also a huge amount that you can learn from your competitors. Carry out regular competitor research to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and to try and identify any gaps in the market that you could fill. In an industry that can be competitive and hard to stand out in, having strong knowledge of your competitors is highly valuable and could make a big difference to your success in the long term.
Identify Your Weaknesses
Managers also need to take the time for self-reflection and identify what their weaknesses are. You can then work on these weaknesses, which should help you to excel in your role, become a better leader and take the business forward. It is tough and confronting to work on your weakness, but this is also one of the best ways to stand out and reach your potential as a manager.
Following on from this, it is not always clear what your weaknesses are or how you could make improvements from your role. This is why it is a smart idea to seek feedback from those around you, as they are likely to have a better idea for areas that you could work on. It is not easy getting feedback from colleagues, but ultimately this is a highly effective way to develop and improve. Not only this but asking for feedback can also create trust and strengthen relationships, which will always benefit the business as a whole.
Outsourcing is always smart as a manager, particularly if your team is struggling or there are certain tasks that you do not have the right personnel for. Outsourcing is a cost-effective way to get certain tasks completed by a specialist and can make it much easier to grow your business while making work easier for your team. For engineering firms, they often find that outsourcing key areas of the business is useful as it allows staff to focus fully on the projects and their core responsibilities. A few areas that are worth outsourcing include:
- IT management
- Digital marketing
Stay Current with Industry Trends
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to engineering is the fact that it is an industry that is constantly going through change with new technology, trends, and challenges (such as COVID-19). This means that you need to constantly stay current with the latest developments in the industry to stay competitive and find success. As an engineering manager, you can do this by attending industry events, communicating with other leaders in the industry, and reading respected publications. This should help you to stay current and find the best ways to help your firm find success no matter what is happening in the world.
Keep Learning & Improving
It is also important that you are looking to develop and improve as a manager. An engineering management masters is an excellent qualification for any engineering manager that will help you to improve and excel in your role. This will develop your abilities as an engineering manager and help with the main areas that people often struggle with, including the supply chain. The importance of supply chain management cannot be overstated and, with this qualification, you will be able to effectively manage and streamline the supply chain. This is key in a time where supply chain management has become increasingly difficult as a result of COVID-19. A study found that 23% of engineering executives had concerns about supply chain disruption as one of their top three concerns about the pandemic, so it is clear that this is an area that managers will need to focus on moving forward.
Master Time Management
It is very hard to find success as an engineering manager without strong time management skills. When it comes to large projects with many moving parts, everything needs to go smoothly, and this will require smart time management skills. You can improve time management skills by breaking tasks down, prioritizing your workload, and using organizational tools to help you and your team to make the most out of your time and communicate efficiently. When you master time management, it should help you to streamline projects and have them delivered both on time and within the pre-agreed budget.
Build & Maintain A Network
You should also make sure that you are always building and maintaining your professional network. When it comes to engineering, there are always external professionals that you need to rely on, and it is important to have people that you know that you can trust. Building a professional network takes a lot of time and effort, but it is an important process to go through and can also help you to develop your professional reputation. You then need to try to maintain this network over time, which is made a lot easier these days, thanks to social media.
As a manager, you should always make yourself available for your team. You need to avoid micromanaging and encourage staff to find their own best ways of working, but support is also hugely important as a manager. You want to encourage your team to come to you when they have any questions, concerns, or ideas as this can prevent mistakes from being made, help staff to feel reassured, and create stronger relationships between staff and management. In addition to physically making yourself available for your team, you also need to make sure that you are warm and welcoming so that they feel that they can come forward when they need support.
Learn From Mistakes
When it comes to management in engineering, it is inevitable that mistakes and setbacks will happen because projects can be so large and challenging to manage. It is easy to let mistakes and setbacks knock you back, but instead, you need to frame them as a learning experience. The best managers are those that always take the time to reflect on mistakes without dwelling on them and will not let a mistake impact their performance or confidence the next time around.
Get The Resources Needed for Your Team
One of the key responsibilities that you will have as a manager is getting the necessary resources for your team. You need to maintain a positive relationship with upper management so that you can get what your team needs to find success with each project, including getting approved budgets that are large enough for each project. Essentially, you are the mouthpiece for your team to senior management, so you need to maintain positive relationships and deal with the politics so that they do not have to.
Ask What People Need
Following on from this point, you need to maintain open communication with your team and ask them what you can do for them. If you spend your time trying to guess what people are thinking and what they need from upper management, you are more likely to make mistakes, and you are overcomplicating your role. Instead, simply ask what you can do for them and then act on this to improve efficiency and create a strong connection with your team.
Know How to Delegate Effectively
As an engineering manager, you need to know how to delegate effectively and match the task to skill. The best managers are happy to take a step back from the technical side of things and instead focus on the big picture, so you need to be able to assign roles to the right people and focus on management. The key here is knowing your team, including their strengths and weaknesses and whether they prefer autonomy or if they need more guidance and support.
The information in this guide should help any new or experienced engineering manager to improve. When an engineering manager knows how to excel, they can stand out for the right reasons and get greater job satisfaction, lead their team effectively and ensure that projects are always successful. This will help to take the business forward and help your firm to compete at a much higher level, which can be incredibly rewarding and help you to develop your professional reputation. Management is not easy in a field like engineering, but when you know what areas to focus on and improve, you should quickly develop as a manager.