Characteristics of an Effective Engineering Manager

Engineering managers have engineering training and specific technical knowledge and experience, and are accountable for the results of the unit, section, or department they head up. Generally speaking, an engineering manager needs to be motivated to acquire knowledge (e.g., roles, functions, and vocabulary) and skills; prepare mentally (job outlook, management orientation, personality traits, and flexibility); and be determined to diligently practice the principles of engineering management. Many skills of engineering management are learnable.

The effective engineering manager is someone who has a clear vision to lead his or her unit, is a rational and organized individual, devotes attention to focus on what customers are looking for (e.g., quality, convenience, flexibility, speed of service, and friendliness in interactions), and practices a high standard with respect to ethics, fairness, and honor. As a rule, managers decide what should be done (strategic), and technical contributors determine how things are to be done (tactical). As an engineering manager rises in an organization, his or her daily decisions will become more strategic. The CEO of a company makes strategic decisions only.

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