5 tips to managing an engineering team

Engineers have quite a reputation to uphold – they’re supposed to be smart, creative and even downright ingenious. While many of them are, they also tend to have personalities that could be called colorful or even eccentric. You shouldn’t try to contain brilliance, but if you’re managing an engineering team, it’s your job to ensure that each employee works with others and does their job well. Here are 5 tips on how to do it.

  • Try improving the interpersonal relations in your team: A team of people who hate each other isn’t going to do much. In contrast, a team of friends who share the same passion is a force to be reckoned with. Look out for any signs of animosity between your team of employees, and look to resolve it quickly in a way that benefits everyone. You can also go a step further and try to bring the people closer together – some managers of engineering teams will even allocate work hours to their team’s social gatherings in order to achieve this.
  • Shift people around until you have found the perfect fit: Everyone’s good at something. As someone managing an engineering team, it’s your job to recognize the particular talents of everyone working under you. Move the engineers away from tasks where they’re displaying little productivity, and don’t be afraid to assign them to something in the face of protests – they’ll realize you did the right thing eventually.
  • Don’t hold back their creativity: There’s no engineering without creativity, regardless of the specific job description. Every good engineer has the ability to think on their own and create new ideas, as well as finding out how to put them to work. Too many employers curb their engineers’ creativity by forcing them to focus on deadlines or the specific task at hand. If one of your engineers just came up with a wacky new idea, don’t be afraid to entertain it, even if it costs momentary productivity.
  • Patience, patience, patience: When managing engineers, aim to act as a teacher more than a drill sargeant or a big bad boss. Take the time to patiently explain every detail an engineer might be curious about, and never let on that the questions might annoy you or make you feel as if you’re wasting your time. This patience will pay dividends once the engineers use the knowledge you’ve provided to come up with great things.
  • Treat each person in the term like an individual: Adding to the first tip, don’t think of your team of engineers as a workforce. Instead, strive to see each and every one of them as individuals with specific skills and talents as well as areas they’re not so apt in. Being able to recognize individual abilities of each member in a team is what separates good managers from great ones, and engineering teams are no different. Only when each part of your team is working at full capacity will you truly be able to reach your goals and achieve the productivity you’re looking for.
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