×
INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!
  • Students Click Here

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Jobs

What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?
13

What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

(OP)
What do you feel the responsibilities and duties of an engineering manager should be to the people reporting to him, and to the company he works for, for that matter? It seem there are lots of people in engineering management who aren't engineers. How do you know if the people you manage are doing a good job and following best practices, never mind offer direction, if you know nothing about what they do? They can explain it to you, but you don't know if that's the right or best way to do it.

Edited to add: Conversely, how would the manager know when his workers are overload, or have unrealistic project time frames?

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

Good managers put their employees in a position to succeed. It's like a football coach; you call plays, you practice them (training), and you get players who can execute them.
It isn't mandatory that engineers manage engineers, but it sure helps. If they have some trusted senior engineers that they can lean on to bounce technical items off of or estimate effort, that's ideal. Once again, like a coach, you don't have to have been a player, but it helps, especially with credibility.
Personally, I've always worked for engineers. Some are good managers, a lot aren't. Tt never stopped any of them from overloading me. Now I'm a supervisor of a small group and sometimes you need to push people. There's just more work than people to do it.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

5
Protection and filtering the BS that gets passed from above!

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

2
Careful, I believe you are mistaking engineering processes. Managers should not need to provide peer design review, they should simply be asking the questions which ensures the engineer has done their diligence so that they are prepared for peer review, what I term "common sense engineering" rather than in-depth analytical work. Managers should be focused on managing project schedules, budget/cost, and personnel rather than engineering details, unfortunately many companies screw this up by either overloading managers or not providing leadership training to teach the manager how to do so. JME, but having had managers that were very involved in engineering details and others that had no time to be, I much prefer the later regardless of the manager's degree, background, etc. Admittedly tho, I do prefer lean organizations that are not top heavy with unnecessary managers as they enable me to work, make decisions that make sense, and keep work flowing in a timely manner rather than having every decision dictated to me through a painfully slow process.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

I've noticed that some engineers seem to expect guidance from their managers at a technical level. That was true for me in my first few years out of uni,

In my opinion my manager should be an interface to the rest of the company, providing resources, allocating projects, and helping to solve organisational roadblocks. The organisation also has requirements of the manager, involving performance management, timesheets, budgets and other such eye glazing topics.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

Different levels of management ostensibly need different skill sets; someone who is managing new grads would expect to be doing some things differently from someone who is managing senior engineers. Ultimately, each manager must still be the person that ensures their team's success, whether that means getting additional resources or buffering their team from upper management interference or "help."

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

2
When I hired into my first engineering job, I sat down with my boss on my first day and he asked me if I had any questions. It was the first time I'd ever worked in an office environment, so I wasn't sure what to really expect. The first question I asked him is, "What is your job as my boss?" His answer was a good one, looking back: "My job is to make sure that you and everyone else in the group is successful; my success as a manager is dependent completely on each person's success that I'm managing."

I took that to heart and still do, as I am a manager myself now. It takes on a slightly different meaning for each person - a big part of being a manager is getting to know your team and understanding their strengths and weaknesses individually, then doing what you can to help them be successful. Some people see management as a position of power and privilege; however, I believe a manager should be working just as hard or harder for the people they are managing (not just the other way around).

I have not been managed by someone who was not an engineer, but have worked with others in that situation. I believe the key is to understand what you can, but be honest with everyone - it's better to let your team know you don't understand something and have them bring you up to speed than to make assumptions. You need the right information to make the right decisions, as well as to keep those above you properly informed (and as Ron said, out of everyone's hair, haha).

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

2
A manager is a snow plow.
You clear the snow out of the way so that other people can drive.

Who is right doesn't matter. What is right is all that matters.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

(OP)
CB1, I agree a engineering manager shouldn't be evolved in details, but believe they should be aware of and approve the final design that their person/people have come up with (and if they have more experience even offer direction). When the manager has never been an engineer, how would they know what questions to ask to know due diligence was performed ("have you checked X?" "Also get a quote from Z company, they've done well for us in the past." "We tried this design 12 years ago and ran into this problem" (I actually got this advice from a long time maintenance guy instead of my manager once!) That sort of thing.) How would they know if it was performed well, or poorly? When the manager's manager ask when a project can be completed by, how would they be able to give an accurate estimate? How would they know when to push back against upper management and say "Not all these tasks can be performed by these deadline, with the staff we have on hand."

It seems a lot of this can only come from experience in the engineering field.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

If an engineering manager is obligated to perform final design reviews, then they're not doing much managing. Take a step back and evaluate the position across a broad-spectrum of companies - what you describe may be common in a small organization where they are fulfilling multiple roles, but can be seemingly unheard of in very large organizations.

It is the responsibility of the engineers to be able to provide those answers to the manager when they don't know it themselves. This is why its often desirable to have mid-senior level engineers providing peer checks/oversight over the less experienced.

Of course, none of this is to say that it's not preferable to have a good manager with some engineering background. But, if I had a choice between a good manager with no engineering background, or a bad manager with an engineering background, I'd take the former every time.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

I'm sure the scope of work varies vastly from company to company, industry to industry. For me, I am responsible for delegating assignments, reviewing all the work, training my staff (and keeping them happy), proposals, some business development, invoicing, tracking monthly revenues, contract reviews, hiring/firing within HR guidelines, office maintenance, GC when we have office remodels or expansions, and pretty much doing whatever it takes to get a client served. Basically, almost everything I would need to handle if I ran my own consultancy minus a lot of the accounting and legal stuff.

I am an engineer (and I believe a good one) in the same discipline as my department, but I can tell you that you don't have to be an expert in a task to be able to effectively manage it. Just think about a land developer building a subdivision. He/She doesn't need to know how to swing a hammer, crimp a fitting, finish concrete, etc., to be able to understand (obviously with some experience) how long it takes to do these things under various circumstances. And for that matter, most managers will have staffers that are better at the individual contribution part than the manager, even if the manager is trained and experienced in the same tasks. That's okay. I think it does help to have direct task experience, but it is certainly not necessary.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

Careful, I believe at some point managers' background become somewhat irrelevant as their roles begin to converge moving up the pyramid. I recently worked with an engineering manager who spent his first 20-odd years as a toolmaker and plant maintenance tech/supervisor/etc. You'd never know he wasn't an engineer. He knew the products, he knew the organization, he knew the history (good and bad), and he was a real go-getter that pushed others to get work done. He didn't have any CAD/analysis/other design skills but he knew the common failure modes and had enough experience in the shop to give a credible opinion on technical matters. I have no doubt junior engineers could learn a thing or three from him. Compared to an engineering manager I once had whose background was purely niche CFD simulation and couldn't design a bolted joint (or likely tie his own shoes) to save his life, I'd gladly take the former toolmaker.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

An aspect I think is important is to train each person under their supervision to eventually move up the ladder, whether they think that person will move up or not. Everyone has their own rate of growth, which shouldn't impact training received. The responsibilities of other jobs, at all levels, need to be taught so junior people can think about and set goals for themselves.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

The best managers to work for have the technical experience and also can manage. Naturally these people rarely come in from outside.** They typically interface with those above them by providing air cover for their people. The risk here is if they look too defensive the higher-ups will cut up the structure because they get suspicious or other departments get jealous of the relative success.
** Important exception is a manager who is effective at facilitating the solution of technical problems. If you're going to switch fields or companies, this would be an important factor.

The most popular managers from the point of view of higher-ups are the ones who don't get bogged in solving technical problems and talk only in business-speak. Or they pretend to be experts and make broad reaching decisions on a selected nugget of subject knowledge they use to justify the direction. They manage through metrics and OTD and don't really understand when these approaches are altering behavior in undesirable ways. They hire and fire without hesitation because it's easier than working with the people or understanding their problems.

The unicorn is the engineering manager who can navigate both sides and serve both roles.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

It's a tricky question to consider based on what's important to a business operation and the engineering output required. One perspective I would offer is that great managers keep talented engineers on track. Engineers, while generally independent, can go down a solution path that adds cycles, complexity and cost to a problem that might have benefitted from effective engineering management.

Collaboration with an engineering manager can simplify a problem or open up new considerations. If an engineer is solving the wrong problem or assuming too many details that may not matter, an engineering manager can be a fantastic coach and collaborator towards efficiency. If the problem and delivering with business sense is a priority, then engineering managers have that daunting responsibility of managing delivery and cost.

Don Dalrymple
Principal
Meadows Analysis & Design

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

If you have not done something yourself, you have no business managing others who do it.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

Tell that to an MBA.

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

Quote (MotorCity)

If you have not done something yourself, you have no business managing others who do it.

That's completely unrealistic beyond the lowest level of management. I also believe it's untrue. My current boss is an electrical guy and our company has all mechanical engineering work. He does very well by asking the right questions, listening, and relying on the people who know.

The trick is finding managers who can check their ego and ambition long enough to do those last 3 things.

David

RE: What should be the responsibilities of an Engineering Manager to those reporting to him?

geesamand - perhaps my statement was to broad. The point I was trying to make is that if you have been a project manager building houses, you should not accept a position as a project manager for 50 story buildings. Just need to compare apples to apples. Its also worth mentioning that there is close overlap in disciplines. For example, as a structural engineer, I feel more comfortable with civil and architectural design issues than mechanical and electrical design issues.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members!


Resources


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close