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Prepare Yourself for a Management Role in Engineering

Prepare Yourself for a Management Role in Engineering

You started your engineering career at the junior level, working as a member of a team and operating under high levels of oversight. Then you became a senior engineer and enjoyed a little more autonomy. Now you’re about to take the next big step in your career, which will involve managing projects and overseeing the work of a team of direct reports.

Depending on your employer and your branch of the engineering field, you may need to become certified as a Professional Engineer (PE), which may require five years of industry experience and a licensing exam (discuss this with your employer to learn more). But you’ll also face a few additional challenges as you make the transition. Here are a few moves that can smooth your path and prepare you for what lies ahead.

Make the Move to a Business Mindset

As a junior employee, you probably relied on one central skill set in order to impress your boss and earn her approval – engineering. If you mastered the engineering tasks placed on your desk, then you mastered the growth of your career. If you’ve gotten comfortable with this equation, prepare for a shock. In your new role, you’ll still need to keep up with the projects under your purview, but you’ll also need to handle budgeting, scheduling, conflict resolution, negotiation, and other executive skill sets that may feel new to you. Start shifting your mindset now.

Think Twice Before you Say Yes

Junior employees tend to thrive if they follow one simple rule: say yes to impress. Agree without hesitation when asked to tackle a project, stay late at the office, or even attend to ancillary tasks that may not be obviously relevant to the needs of a given client. This kind of knee-jerk obedience helps junior and entry level workers thrive. But at the management level, what once served as an asset can become a liability. Unlike entry-level workers, managers need to think twice and consider all the angles before committing to a project, executing a task, or deploying human capital in a less-than-efficient way.

Get Ready to Work Harder AND Smarter

As you enter the management level, staying on top of your own overflowing inbox won’t be enough to help you get ahead. Prepare for a schedule in which you show up earlier than your direct reports and leave later than they do, day after day after day. Set the right example by doing more than you expect them to do and invest more than you expect them to invest. Prepare to take the blame for their mistakes, place yourself between them and your clients when something goes wrong, and hand all the credit over to them when things go well. Meanwhile, become an available and trustworthy resource when they have questions and need direction.

For more on how to leave the junior stage of your career behind and advance to the management level, reach out to the staffing experts at Techneeds.