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Should I take the department head position?

Should I take the department head position?

Should I take the department head position?

Hello all,
I am at a point in my career where the only way to go up is to move up (to management).
I have been approached for a department head position three times in the past 6 months, without looking for it.

I feel totally capable of running a department, I've done it several times replacing my bosses, actually, at some places I've been, I was the go to guy for technical and contractual questions including fee proposals and all.

I am afraid of two things:

1. Hard workers make lousy bosses they say, which I may be.
2. The ball will no longer be in my hands, my performance will depend on other people.

Should I do it?

RE: Should I take the department head position?

On the other hand:
- People who choose managers think you can do it ... or that you are the least awful choice available now.
- You get to choose the team on which you depend ... eventually.
- You get more money.

On the other, other hand:
- Virtually nothing you do will be fun anymore.
- Your current peers will behave differently toward you.
- You will have to evaluate everything in terms of internal politics, not numbers.
- Until you can build your dream team, you have to work with what you've got, and accept responsibility for whatever they do.
- You won't be the go-to guy anymore, because you'll be in meetings.
- You are afraid.  It might be just uncertainty, or it might be your subconscious mind screaming at you.
- They may not give you enough money to offset the negatives.  There may not _be_ enough money...

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Should I take the department head position?

By all means give it a try.

If you deceide you don't like it or you're not good at it maybe you could work to hire your "replacement" and then go back to doing what you "like". Never pass up an oppurtunity for advancement.

good luck

RE: Should I take the department head position?

"Hard workers make lousy bosses they say, which I may be."

Are you going to go out of your way to be nasty and unfriendly to your employees? Are you going to "push" them so hard so that they quit? Are you not going to reward hard work? Are you not going to "mentor" anyone? Are you going to care more about maximizing profit and minimizing effort (that's still hard work, though)?

RE: Should I take the department head position?

If you are going to micro manage, and try to do the work of your employees, then don't do it. That is the main reason why many engineers make poor managers, they can't stop being engineers, and they are in a position to be critical of everyones work, and take on everyones work. No one can do it like you can....

If you are committed to being a manager, which means being there to support your team, while letting them do their job, then go for it.

Figure out what you don't like in your own manager and don't do that...

-The future's so bright I gotta wear shades!

RE: Should I take the department head position?

It is a great opportunity to join the elite.  As a new member, sure there will be hazing in one form or another but survive that, you will be fine.

1. Lower your expectation of others.
2. Don't micromanage.
3. Find out what your subordinates need to get their job done and provide them.
4. Lower your expectation of others.

RE: Should I take the department head position?



Greg Locock

Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Should I take the department head position?

I knew I'd get some good ideas from this site, thanks all.
To follow up on some of the points raised:

As always, you have a way to desinsitize the most sensitive guy, always put things in a way that we can understand. Probably comes his southern hospitality. I loved your comments, Hear!

No, I will not micro-manage people, but I think that I would not allow that little internet window under the CAD screen. Probably would not allow earphones for engineers (OK for CAD guys). When someone is on the internet, have a full screen, do what you got to do and get out (personnal or otherwise).
I don't see anything bad about my current boss, he is a great guy. I will actually try to do what he is doing well instead of trying not to do what he does not do well.

No, I think I am a worker's boss, actually I might have a problem with owners for not rewarding hard work, that's why I am investigating the firms' cultures very carefully, I don't want to go to a place that expects 50 hours a week of its employees. I want to go to a place that is very flexible. In my opinion, if you don't have anything to do at work, you can go home, I hate to see someone trying to look busy. Keeping people busy is management's problem.

At my age, a lot of people are presidents whose performance really depend on a lot of people, so if not now, then when? Thanks for the encouragement.

I have learned one thing: Refrain from criticism and be generous in praise. I used to take it on myself and do my subbordinates' work, not anymore, I've learned to delegate and empower folks.


RE: Should I take the department head position?


Sure, go for it. If it doesn't work out, you can then come back to the technical track.

Does it pay more? I definitely ask for more money - but that's just me.

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
Have you read FAQ731-376 to make the best use of Eng-Tips Forums?

RE: Should I take the department head position?

I have been told twice in my career (when I was offered a higher position that I was not sure I should accept) that if I did not accept a position when offered you will never be offered any other position in the future.

Upper management feels you can handle the position or they would not offer.  Remember upper management wants you to succeed just as bad as you want to succeed.

You can always return to the technical side if management is not you.

Take the position.

RE: Should I take the department head position?

I hope I can give you some helpful advice

I spent a career in the military and have worked with,led, supervised,and managed many people at different levels

First of all you admit you fear that your performance will be in the hands of other people. This is a common situation for a really competent hands on guy. But you generally like people right?

It's a trust issue--in this case you trust yourself but not necessarily others.  You will be the one responsible for making them trustworthy!  That's your goal.

Now look at this from another perspective---you are experienced, knowledgeable, and trusted by Mgmt. You got there by developing from where you started. Imagine how rewarding it can be to take someone from where they are to where you are?

People may react differently to you at first but that will change with time.

A good and appreciated approach is from the angle of "I think you are very good or have the potential to be very good and I'm here to make sure that happens"

You're a hard worker?  You may be judgemental and compare others to yourself but set goals and let people know you want to meet those goals not sit and wait to hammer them for the mistakes along the way. Maybe you don't see someone as a "hard worker" but look for some good, praise it, and try and support them, yet be demanding or maybe challenging is a better word. Never be a friendly pushover, nobody respects that or feels good about meeting undemanding expectations.

Share your experience to walk them step by step to success and give them all the credit and do it publicly.  Soon you will have a whole group pulling for your success and goals because you showed you had their best interest at heart.  Make them successful.

Be critical of results or performance but not the person---How can we do this better? Do this in private.

In the military NCOs say share the credit but accept the blame---if you have your peoples best interests at heart they will see it but don't forget management goals!  

One of the things to keep in mind is include everyone and all honest effort ----not just your brightest and best.  If you have one person who is giving a little ----get a little more from them. More overall improvement comes from them--some people always lean into the yoke, don't forget them but they will do it with less effort on your part.

Be patient changing culture,building trust, and achieving success takes some time but personally I think management is something you have to do but it is leadership that gets things done. I have worked hard for many officers who didn't have a clue about my job cause they were good leaders. You have the advantage of being technically competent---don't turn it into a disadvantage by competing with your subordinates.

finally emphasize team success not individual competition-without going on too long about it friendship or at least good will among co-workers goes a long way towards building success----

You're ready, you will make mistakes and learn and find out that leading people can be very rewarding too.  

On occasion I will come across a past subordinate who has done very well and have them heap praise and thanks on me and I tell them no I didn't do it you did I just helped point the way.  Truth is I also made a lot of mistakes and often learned the hard way with people I couldn't understand why everyone wasn't motivated by the same things as I was but when you get it right and a team comes together and runs like clockwork it's very fulfilling.

Hard workers only make lousy bosses because they compare everyone to themselves AFTER they are at the top of their game---Hey we all started out as goofy kids! Don't forget to have a laugh too!

Go on take the job, take the money---can you screw it up worse than some of the boneheads you have worked for in the past? Ha Ha!

Best of luck to ya!

RE: Should I take the department head position?

Re. hard work/trust/etc.

Some hard workers make terrible bosses because they are unable to delegate and take the hands off the steering wheel.  So they slave away after hours, doing things that should have been delegated to others.  Result is that he's not managing like he's supposed to AND the workers aren't getting to do the work that they're supposed to.


Eng-Tips Policies FAQ731-376

RE: Should I take the department head position?

I wanted to give a star to bsmith123 for reminding me a few things about what I've learned in the military, unfortunately the darn pop-up box won't load up today...

What stayed with me is "People first, mission always."  You can apply this both in the military and private.

There is a difference between leadership and management.  There was a thread a while back that talked about this.  If you can find a leadership training, it will benefit you immensely.  Oh... attend the management training also.  They are helpful.

Finally, I heard if your workers like you and have no complaints, you aren't doing your job.  Can't agree 100%, but there is some truth in there.

RE: Should I take the department head position?

The star worked this time.

RE: Should I take the department head position?

On my drive home I thought I made a mistake on my last post...  It should have read "Mission first, people always"


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