Time will come for engineers who work in big companies that they will be promoted to managers. They will be tasked to take on bigger responsibilities and hold greater power as a result of their hard work and set of skills.
But note that the work of an engineering employee is completely different with when you are in a higher position.
That is why engineers who are on their way to become managers should already prepare for what lies ahead. They should think of how to transition from individual contributors to managers, which entail changes in principles and work system.
Here are 5 of those changes, in case you are set to become an engineering manager someday
Shift your focus from “I” to “we”
It’s not just about you alone anymore and your contributions, but about how you are going to make others be part of meeting the company’s goals. Once you become an engineering manager, you should be able to understand your subordinates’ need and support them in their tasks. You are growing together under mutual benefits.
Build your influence as a manager with trust
Especially when the team you will manage is composed of engineers that you used to work with, you are bound to set boundaries. It has to be made clear that it is no longer the same, and expectations have to be established. But this does not need to result to broken work relationships. It’s important to test the waters first – much of that is to trust that they will deliver amid the organizational shakeup – before making adjustments.
Look at the big picture
Perhaps this is one of your most important mindsets when working as an engineering manager: there are targets to meet and you are a catalyst. But if you are new to the position, you can always ask mentors or those who have more experience than you do in the field. Accept first that there will always be somebody who is better than you – regardless of position – and by then you should be able to work together in meeting targets. Do not act as if you know everything and always ask for inputs.
Step out of your comfort zone
Engineering managers are seen as role models. If you are not taking enough risks, then the members of your team will most likely follow. This is why you should not be afraid of challenging the status quo when necessary. The true progress of engineers is made when they take intelligent risks.
Develop a culture of excellence
This is simply about making your subordinates work to their best even if you are not around to check on them every time. This can be done by not intimidating them and encouraging them instead. Pave the way for your employees to excel. Also, let them know what needs to be done and their rewards so they will understand the necessity of their outputs.