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Management for Engineers: Don't Be a 'Pointy-Haired Manager'
1/31/2014

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henry..12
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Re: But I don't WANT to become a manager...
henry..12   2/3/2014 8:39:38 PM
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@elizabethsimon   It's a wise person to know when they have good management (someone here had a similar sentiment). It's becoming incerasingly difficult to find companies that embrace a strong technical ladder. Often, they are the product of an engineering founder and an undying dedication to engineering excellence.

Usuallyt they also have a general positive attitude towards all professionals.

Too bad they seem to be a dying breed...

 

henry..12
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Re: But I don't WANT to become a manager...
henry..12   2/3/2014 8:35:06 PM
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@JeffL_2 I've had a fortunate career. My first introduction to management was for a smallish (100+_ person company) that the founders believed in training for those who had an interest. So, I took advantage of every opportunity to lear, regardless of the topic. Management was a foreign field to me, but having the chance to take workshops from Peter Drucker was too good to pass uip. My first management positions was premature and very difficult for me, but I learned more doing the job.

Several of the larger companies I've worked for had management training in teh late 70s, but it seems that many companies have cut those programs back heavily.

I suppose that I could take a pessimistic view of management, but I donlt. There are undoubtedly managers who make the "easy" decision that upper management may want.

Standing one's own ground as a manager is a test of their courage. Knuckle under and fire the experienced guy, and unless the starts align just right and the project completes without major issues, the project WILL become later and MORE expensive. 

elizabethsimon
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Re: But I don't WANT to become a manager...
elizabethsimon   2/3/2014 3:08:07 PM
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I'm very fortunate that I work for a company that generally has good managers, a good training program to grow more good managers and a technical track so that those like me who don't desire to go into managemnt are nor forced into it. This is also the only company I've worked for where I could see myself as a manager IF I had the desire and personality to do it.

The big difference at this company is the attitude of upper management in recognizing the contributions of more experienced engineers.

 

betajet
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Re: a derivative of a famous proverbs...
betajet   2/3/2014 1:16:00 PM
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Here's the version I heard: "Good Judgement comes from Experience.  Experience comes from Bad Judgement."

aegispower
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Re: a derivative of a famous proverbs...
aegispower   2/3/2014 12:52:49 PM
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Nice proverb :) Thankfully, at Aegis Power Systems we have an awesome boss, but I can easiily see how management is not for every engineer!

JeffL_2
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Re: But I don't WANT to become a manager...
JeffL_2   2/3/2014 12:31:49 PM
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What bothers me is many companies openly refuse to consider having "tech track" careeer options anymore. Now I know I for one would make a lousy manager because I know my heart just isn't in it. But it doesn't keep me from wondering how a manager responds to an order from high up to "reduce headcount" and you just KNOW the intent is to cut total salaries, do you cut the most experienced (and generally highest-paid) FIRST, leaving yourself without the folks you need to make a technical success out of that next project? Then having done that if the next project is running into technical or schedule trouble don't you just blame the staff you're left with, don't they know that about you already? (And if you don't operate on that basis aren't you just putting your OWN job at risk?) I get the impression that a lot of the skills you need to have in order to flourish as a manager are diametrically the opposite of what you needed to be a great engineer in the first place, so why SHOULDN'T companies provide that "tech track", and then doesn't NOT having one admit that they aren't really seeking excellence in the first place (I don't mean at ANY price just a reasonable one)?

bk11
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Manager
Re: a derivative of a famous proverbs...
bk11   2/3/2014 12:27:30 PM
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"Good decisions come from experience.  Experience comes from bad decisions."

I'm not sure who said it, but too many times engineers have to deal with managers in the process of gaining experience...

Max The Magnificent
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Re: a derivative of a famous proverbs...
Max The Magnificent   2/2/2014 2:43:45 PM
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@Lister1: He who has not good management...

Good one!

henry..12
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Re: But I don't WANT to become a manager...
henry..12   2/2/2014 1:58:23 PM
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@zeeglen you've hit on an age-old problem for engineers.  Everybody has a share in this one regardless of their position in the company. Most larger companies have a bifurcation in the carrer path for engineers: continue up the technical ladder or move onto the management ladder. But engineers who are often under-trained or glamorize management step onto the management track without careful thought to the future of their career. Often, good engineers are promoted into management (as opposed to continuing the technical ladder) because their management recognizes excellent engineering skills and presumes incorrectly that a great engineer will make a great manager. And the engineer owns a piece of the problem when they take the management position.

I'm sure that most engineers can think of a great engineer who crashed and burned as a manager because they weren't tempermentally suited for the job.

I worked with an engineer who was made an upper level manager in a small company. This fellow was a very skillful engineer capable of great designs. He accepted the ego-boosting promotion because it seemed like a logical carrer step. He wasn't a good maanager for several reasons, chief among them was lack of management training and being painfully introverted. Without training he hadn't learned how to do the new job. He failed at managing and his technical work product and decisions were disasterous.

Luckily for him he found a jon outside the company that moved him laterally and back onto the technical lader. He's much better suited for that path, but if he worked at it he could probably gain the skills to continue on the management ladder.

It may seem harsh, but it's the employee's job to dispassionately assess their skill level and future goals before accepting a management position. Sometimes an offer of a management position may become a lever to move up the technical ladder. To successfully negotiate such as move, you MUST dispassionately understand your strengths and weaknesses and have a cleat career path in mind.

 

henry..12
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Re: a derivative of a famous proverbs...
henry..12   2/2/2014 1:37:53 PM
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@lister1 I love the rewritten proverb ... I think it places the responsibility to reognize a good manager a bit too strongly on the employee, but it has a lopt of truth in it! 

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