Between managing people and juggling a plethora of deadlines and goals, engineering managers have a lot on their plates. The wrong manager can have a negative impact on teams, projects and the company at large. So, how do you define the hallmarks of a successful engineering manager?
Here are three things you should always look for when promoting or hiring engineering managers.
They Build And Give Trust
Leadership is all about influencing others and trust is the foundation of influence. Trust is built by demonstrating competence and good character. Competence is shown by demonstrating that even though the leader might not be an expert in everything he or she does, they understand the work well enough to make strong decisions about it and has the courage to ask questions when there is a lack of understanding. Character is about caring for the work that is being done, caring for employees and caring for clients. When employees see both competence and character, they will trust their engineering manager and will be more likely to do their best work.
Good managers also trust in their people. They do not micromanage or second guess. They allow their team to do their jobs the best way they know-how and provide them with the space to try new things and even fail forward. Managers who trust in their people see the big picture much more clearly than those who micromanage.
Employees need and appreciate a manager who takes time to coach them through a challenge, who notices when they are ready for more responsibility and helps them live up to and beyond their potential. Great managers are always great coaches.
Coaches also let the glory go to the team. According to Gallup research, only one in three US workers “strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days.” People want their hard work and their successes acknowledged, and great managers take the time to thank people for their hard work and recognize employees when someone goes above and beyond to achieve a goal.
They See And Hear Their People
Effective engineering managers demonstrate empathy for their employees and colleagues. People sometimes mistake empathy for weakness, but there is nothing weak about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to see their viewpoint. Successful managers are naturally empathetic and see things from other people’s perspectives, even if they disagree.
Because successful managers are empathic, they also can tailor their management style and communication method to individuals to get the best from them rather than imposing their own preferences on everyone.