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Your engineering team is made up of a disparate bunch of people who all have their own personalities, issues, skills, ambitions, and quirks. Follow these seven engineering management principles, and you’ll be on the path to success.

Understand your team

When you take on a leadership role, you need to get to know your team members. These are the people on whom you will rely to complete a project effectively and on time.

Take your time to chat with each person on an individual level. Don’t rush it. Sit down with a cup of coffee and get to know them personally, what their home challenges are, and what their professional ambitions are. Although you are their manager, you are also their teammate. Make them feel valued, heard, and included.

Know your project details

You will not garner your team’s respect and trust if you do not know the project. In fact, if your knowledge is anything less than in-depth and perfect, then the overall performance of the team will suffer seriously as a result. As their leader, you need to know your own, and everyone else’s role in the project. Harness the engineering project management traits of being obsessive and detail-oriented – and your team’s respect will follow as a result.

Do not micromanage

The sign of a good manager is delegation. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of ‘if a job is worth doing, do it yourself!’ You might know your project inside out, but you need to trust your team to do what they are paid to do.

Moving away from doing everything and moving into managing the processes and workflows is one of the most difficult aspects of moving into management and leadership but is essential to the overall success of the job. Micromanaging creates stress and anxiety all around. You get resentful that you feel you are doing everyone’s job. Your team gets resentful that you don’t trust them or their abilities.  Delegate that sense of ownership and learn to bite your tongue unless approached for specific help.

Be flexible

The course of true leadership never runs smoothly. Problem-solving is part of the job description. As a manager, it is your responsibility to overcome challenges and obstacles that throw themselves in your path.

Don’t get stuck in a fixed mindset that rigidly focuses on one pathway. Together with your team, develop an open mindset that embraces challenges.

Keep an eye on the big picture

As an engineer working as part of a team, you have specific tasks to fulfil. As a team leader, however, you need to keep in mind every individual task, and how they each relate to the bigger picture. Successfully managing a team will enable you to bring all elements of a project together at the end with minimum disruption. You’re like a conductor leading an orchestra – you must learn to recognise individual bum notes and bring them back into harmony with the rest of the team if the result is to be perfection.

Communicate well

The channels of communication need to be clear and concise.

Your team members must be clear as to what is expected of them. Hold daily updates – they don’t have to be longwinded, but just a quick 10 minutes at the start and end of each day to check in with progress.

Take the time to engage on a personal level. If someone is needing support, offer it. As well as being responsible for the project at hand, you are also responsible for the well-being of your team.

And make sure you give regular updates to your company’s management – the more you keep them informed, the more they’ll trust you in the future.

Manage from the start through to the finish

Define outcomes and set reasonable expectations so that everybody knows where they are in the overall project. Plot processes, be clear as to individual responsibilities, and learn to enjoy the challenges – because they’ll be a lot!

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