If you had to make a wish list of all the perfect characteristics an engineering manager should demonstrate when you’re looking to recruit one, that list would probably look like the one below.

Let’s just be realistic for now – it’s probably not going to happen – if you found an engineer with all these traits, they probably wouldn’t be a manager; they would be the CEO looking to recruit an engineering manager.

However, you can look for elements of these traits and a willingness to learn, grow and develop, alongside a passion for engineering. These combined traits will compound into the perfect candidate who will in time become indispensable to your company.

Engineering manager trait #1 – Agility

Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily. There are going to be circumstances when an engineering manager needs to think quickly on their feet. Decisions will need to be made, situations will need to be rapidly scrutinised and assessed, and this needs to be done with certainty and integrity to ensure the confidence and collaboration of the team.

Engineering manager trait # 2 – Exceptional Communication skills

If you can’t communicate your thoughts and intentions, there will be confusion. Good communication skills can be learnt, so what is probably most important at the recruitment stage is that the candidate is engaging and speaks with conviction. This gives a good foundation for the development of good communication skills.

Engineering manager trait # 3 – Patience

Thomas Savage, author of The Power of the Dog wrote “If you’ve got guts, you can do any damned thing, guts, and patience. Impatience is a costly commodity.” Agility plus impatience will lead to mistakes. Agility plus patience will allow you to react in a clear and considered manner.

Engineering manager trait # 4 – Inclusiveness

Your ideal manager will judge only based on the capabilities of the people on their team, not by any other characteristic. The ideal manager will bring together a team that shares common passions for the engineering job at hand – and that will be the focus.

Engineering Manager trait # 5 – Advanced Prioritisation Skills

A good manager will know instinctively how to meet deadlines, manage their own workload, avoid distractions, control stress, and prioritise tasks. More importantly, they will know how to lead a team to do the same.

Engineering Manager trait # 6 – Motivation

Knowing how to keep a team engaged and motivated during the most difficult, challenging, and boring of times is an essential skill. Your manager needs to know and understand self-motivation if they are going to motivate their team too.

Engineering manager trait # 7 – Coding knowledge

Even if your new manager is not going to be coding themselves, having a good depth of knowledge is essential if they are going to engage, motivate and communicate with a team of engineers.

Engineering manager trait # 8 – Managerial skills

Managing is just that – managing other people to ensure that projects are completed and delivered on time. A good manager will develop their skills over time. When recruiting, if the candidate is new to management, look for elements of these skills that can be built on and developed over time.

Engineering manager trait # 9 – An Ability to Quantify and Measure

Your manager should have a strong eye for detail and equally maintain a good overall perspective based on the figures.

Engineering manager trait # 10 – Strong hiring skills

A good manager can engage and communicate well with others, recognising skills and characteristics that would be good and relevant to his team.

Remember that no one is perfect, and there are many traits that can be trained and developed over time.

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