Engineering managers are the unsung heroes of many successful engineering projects in the workplace today. These individuals combine the administrative aspects of a manager with the technical know-how and qualities of an engineer.
Becoming a good engineering manager goes beyond academic skills and qualifications. Several soft skills are required to effectively manage a team towards successful project completion. These skills are essential for effective engineering management and are discussed in this article.
These skills will also be useful to you if you’re interested in becoming an engineering manager with the aid of one of the University of Ottawa online programs. The University of Ottawa’s master’s in engineering management program is offered 100% online, making it ideal for working engineering professionals that require flexibility while studying. This degree combines engineering and management skills to help students learn how to better mobilize people, money and technology.
A few skills are required to keep a team at peak performance as an engineering manager. Below, we’ll go over some of the essential qualities and skills that a good engineering manager should possess, such as:
An engineering manager must possess the skills to effectively lead others on their team to accomplish their stated objectives. A leader can be defined as someone who can visualize the desired result and steer others in that direction.
If you want to be a great engineering manager, you must know how to encourage each member of your team to cooperate. Your team should respond enthusiastically to your encouragement. You should also have confidence in their ability to carry out the tasks that have been assigned to them.
It should be noted that you don’t need to be more skilled than your team members to guide them as a leader. You just need to be aware of everyone’s strengths and know how you can best use them. Simply put, effective engineering management requires strong leadership abilities that enable you to effectively direct other team members.
The final decision-makers on the team are typically the engineering managers. A good engineering manager must be an expert decision-maker. This means that they should have the capacity to weigh several viewpoints on an issue before making a choice.
Remember that you won’t be doing everything alone because you’ll be collaborating with people as an engineering manager, so efficient engineering management should be flexible enough to consider the opinions of others before making a decision. This is important when you’re an engineering manager in charge of specialists in various fields.
You must always be accountable for your decisions and the outcomes as an engineering manager. As the decision-maker, you should be happy if the choice produces positive outcomes. Conversely, when the decision taken turns out to be a bad one, you should also bear the faults.
An effective engineering manager needs to learn how to bear responsibility. You should learn to accept both faults and successes.
You will need to maintain your composure even when something goes wrong or works against you. Even if it was your teammates who erred, you need to be able to accept responsibility on their behalf. Of course, you also need to learn to take accountability if you’re at fault.
Engineering teams that work together on a project usually include a sizable number of people. The temperaments, dispositions, skillsets and characters of these people vary widely. Some team members may find it difficult to communicate effectively with one another as a result.
As an engineering manager, you must be able to communicate clearly with each member of your team. If you can’t communicate project expectations to your team, you can’t expect them to meet them.
You can unite everyone and guide them on the same path if you have effective communication abilities. Communication skills are also necessary when you need to act as a bridge between two experts who can’t communicate effectively. You must be able to understand what each side desires and successfully convey that knowledge to the other.
Excellent communication skills are a requirement for developing a basic awareness of your team members’ capabilities. Keeping up team morale after a failure or when things get difficult is only possible when you’re a good communicator.
Communication skills can also be non-verbal. Nonverbal communication techniques include leveraging your body language or eye contact to convey your decisions.
An effective communicator only needs to make their point. It doesn’t matter if it happens through spoken words, body language, drawings or written notes.
An effective engineer can provide solutions to the issues they are working on. This is also an important skill for any engineering manager, especially when you’re leading others, so they can come to you when they run into issues in their jobs.
To be a good problem solver, you don’t necessarily need to be more skilled than the other team members. You just need to put your analytical skills together with the knowledge your team has given you to use to come up with a solution.
Many engineering managers have acquired problem-solving abilities through experience in their industry. Does this mean that young engineering managers are doomed to failure?
Of course not. A good engineering manager doesn’t need years of experience to be able to analyze situations effectively, nor do they need years of experience to develop their quick-thinking skills. Reading about the experiences of experts, participating in internships and learning from your mistakes are all good ways to develop problem-solving skills.
Emotional intelligence (EQ)
This can be a rather difficult skill for many engineering managers to acquire, as most engineers are logical individuals, but to manage your team effectively, you’ll need a high level of emotional intelligence.
This implies that you should be able to decipher your team members’ nonverbal signs. To better understand your team members, you should be empathetic when necessary.
An engineering manager with good emotional intelligence should be able to read the atmosphere of a room. This can help them to diffuse conflicts before they begin and settle misunderstandings among team members.
If you’re not a good listener as an engineering manager, then your EQ skills are likely low as well. There are times when you’re supposed to lend your team members a listening ear, helping you acquire the information you need to provide effective solutions to their problems. A good engineering manager should be able to feel the emotions of their team members and show emotions when they need to.
Attention to detail
There’s a lot that goes on when members of a team work together on a project. If every member were to work on their assigned job and ignore what others are doing, the workplace would be more productive, but mistakes would be more likely to occur.
The engineering manager must be mindful of everything going on in their immediate environment. They must be thorough enough to catch small mistakes as soon as they occur. Precision is important in many projects, so being able to focus on the details is essential.
Paying attention to detail also includes noticing all the little nuances that others might miss. While your team members may be willing to ignore little hiccups in their tasks, you need to ensure everything goes perfectly.
An engineering manager needs to be aware of the project’s final aim and know how to get there. Nevertheless, no matter how gifted the person is, they won’t be able to handle everything on their own. This is why they have a team.
However, if you don’t know how to use your skills well, your teammates won’t be helpful. This means that assigning tasks to team members effectively is crucial for good engineering project management.
By understanding the capabilities of your teammates and knowing what they can handle, you’ll be able to ensure that all the duties that you leave in their hands are carried out efficiently.
Delegating duties to team members also enhances communication and trust among everyone on the team. After all, you can only delegate duties to someone when you’re sure that they can effectively handle them. Delegation also allows your team members to build confidence in themselves as they handle tasks on their own.
Time management skills
Every engineering project has a set timeline by which it must be accomplished. A good engineering manager is aware of this time constraint and ensures the project is accomplished within that time.
Effective time management is required when you delegate tasks to members of the team. You should be able to convey the importance of deadlines to your team members.
Of course, there’s no perfect plan, and eventualities do occur; however, a good engineering manager should be able to foresee these occurrences and make plans for them.
This doesn’t mean that you should be able to predict the occurrence, but rather that your project plan should have space to accommodate it. This means you must be able to make the necessary adjustments if the project is behind schedule to guarantee that a deadline is met.
An engineering manager is the heart of any engineering project workforce. This means that they’ll be under a lot of stress trying to manage others on the team and meet project deadlines. There may even be times when they need to work excessive hours to ensure that project deadlines are met.
All this stress can cause the engineering manager to break down, so a good engineering manager should be able to maintain a balance between their work life and their personal affairs.
While we don’t mean that you should neglect work, you should also understand that your personal life matters. For effective engineering management, you’ll need enough sleep, rest outside work and time to meet friends. All this helps ensure you’re not overstressed and can thrive in the workplace without compromising your wellbeing.
Provide constructive criticism
As an engineering manager, you’ll be working with professionals. This means that your team members should understand their field of endeavor and take pride in what they do. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they are above making mistakes.
Another good engineering management skill is the ability to give constructive criticism. This means that you should be able to correct your team members in such a way that they don’t feel offended.
Of course, this can be hard, and many managers shy away from it because they don’t want to create hard feelings. However, inaccuracies and mistakes are unacceptable in an engineering project, so you need to let the expert know about any mistakes.
Through constructive criticism, you’ll be able to praise the team member’s capabilities while also outlining areas for improvement. This will make it easier for your team members to accept their mistakes without fracturing the harmony of the team.
Recognize team member efforts
Although the glory of doing a good job rests mostly on the manager, it’s always best to recognize team efforts. Sometimes, telling a team member that they did an excellent job on a project is more effective than a pay raise. This inexpensive method can boost the morale of the team and encourage them to work harder than before.
When you recognize the efforts of someone on the team, it tells them that you’re mindful of their work. They may like you more if you can appreciate the effort they put forth in what they accomplish. You’ll also be able to collaborate with them more easily and even correct them when you find an error in their work.
Engineering projects always follow a master plan and schedule. Theoretically, this means that following that plan to the letter will allow you to accomplish the project; however, something can always go wrong and mess up this carefully drafted plan.
An engineering manager must be adaptable in such circumstances. In this situation, flexibility is being able to adjust to changes in the plan. Managers should be able to alter their strategy to get past any hurdle that has arisen.
An engineering manager without the skills outlined above won’t find it easy to manage a team, regardless of their qualifications. If you’re thinking of becoming an engineering manager, make an effort to acquire these simple skills to maximize your efficacy. If you’re an engineering manager who hasn’t acquired these skills, you should do so to improve your team’s capability.