Key Considerations Before Becoming an Engineering Manager

“Management means the development of people, not the direction of things.” – Bob Proctor

Many of the engineers I have interacted with have expressed that one major goal in their careers is to transition from enhancing their own technical expertise to managing and developing people. This is a noble career path option.

As a manager, you will have the opportunity to not simply create and produce quality results, but to influence others for the better through mentoring and helping shape the strategic directions in your organization.

Management is not all roses, however. There are factors that you must consider if you choose to transition into a management role. Being aware of these things before making the change will help you be sure that this is the correct path for you. Below are a few things to consider.

The purpose and focus of your work will change

Rather than being a technical expert and knowing all the processes and executing them, you must learn how to be a leader of people. There will be more meetings, for sure, but it’s not just about coordination – it’s about alignment. Your results are not just your own – you now own the results of your entire team.

You must let go of most technical work

As an individual contributor, perhaps you have become the go-to person who knows all the answers and solutions. Now, as you become an engineering manager, you will not continue to be a subject matter expert. Rather, you will have to build and trust your team to know (or find) all the answers and be technical experts in their respective fields.

Is management right for you?

If this type of work excites and gives you a sense of fulfillment, then this could be a great way for you to progress in your career. If you’re not sure, then perhaps you can find a way to get a glimpse on what kind of work needs to be done as an engineering manager by asking people in your network, or ask to mentor a young engineer.

For many, this is a difficult shift in identity. You will need to learn to let go of a part of your identity as someone who is a technical master and create a new identity as someone who helps people succeed, grow, and develop in their careers.

If you have a genuine concern for your people and a keen desire to help them be successful, you can elevate them – and there’s nothing more amazing than that! Let me know if you’re interested and let’s make this happen for you!

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