During the years I spent in various management roles at EDA companies, I have seen many brilliant and effective engineers promoted to management positions. Almost always, the promotion is in recognition of their superior technical capabilities, not because they have shown business and people skills that justify the promotion. The job of an engineer is to design and develop competitive products, most often than not under both schedule and budget constraints. So, only after the promotion is the engineer capable of turning his or her attention to matters other than engineering.
Learning means making mistakes, and making mistake in real life can be costly, both to the individual and to the corporation. I am not talking about big mistakes that have an immediate repercussion. Some times those can be fixed by a more senior manager. Especially in areas of interpersonal communication and leadership new managers often get off the wrong foot and resentment builds up among their subordinates. The resentment can be addressed to the individual, to the company, or both. It simmers, almost unnoticed, and flares up at the wrong time and it is almost always unfixable because it has a long history of small things gone wrong that accumulate until the proverbial straw brakes the camel's back. And back surgery is very challenging, even on camels!
Back in July of 2003, Yvonne Ryan, who has spent many years in EDA in various capacities, started a leadership coaching and training firm called Leader's Edge CA to provide coaching to new and prospective managers. As you can imagine the one-on-one coaching got to be pretty limiting. So Yvonne started to work on a new approach. In May this year, she launched Techies on the RiseTM a 15-week intensive leadership teleseminar and group coaching program for technical professionals. It is a cost-effective and time-effective way for technical professionals to hone their leadership skills. Participants not only learn about the five roles every techie leader must fulfill, but they will also have continuous coaching support as they improve their communication, facilitation, and people skills.
I think it is a good idea, and in fact I think that every engineer, not just those hoping for a promotion to management, or those who have been promoted recently, can benefit from the seminar. You hear often about engineers' inability to communicate. I know it is a stereotype, but it does have some truth. Engineers are trained to solve problems in a world were precision rules. For most the subtleties of verbal and non-verbal communication are an unfortunate human defect, not to be encouraged, and certainly time-consuming. Good managers know better, but most of them learned the technique, they were not born with that faculty. So, take a look at Yvonne's website: TechiesOnTheRise. Most of you will be glad you did.