This is a guest blog by Pamela A. Scott
I’ve worked with engineers for over 20 years on the people management side of their business. That’s why my tagline is “If you don’t take care of your people, you won’t have a business to run.”
This blog post is aimed at helping you grow yourself and your people. The ideas apply for CEOs as well as for rookie engineers — and even for those non-engineering folks out there.
Guideline #1: Show Appreciation
People want to be appreciated. It is your job to let your people know that you appreciate them and what they do. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Lots of engineers freeze at the idea that they need to tell their people, “Thanks for what you do. I really appreciate you.” Notice that it’s YOU, not IT.
If doing that gives you hives, try this approach to build your mental muscles and communication style.
My husband and I went out for lunch recently, and our server introduced himself as Bryan. We each immediately said, “Hi, Bryan.” It’s good to use a person’s name when doing this process.
We had never met Bryan before, but over the course of our meal we learned that Bryan is working two jobs so he can afford the nice things that he wants and that he has standards for not working with horrible bosses. We had a lovely conversation. As we prepared to leave, we said, “I appreciate you, Bryan.”
Bryan took great care of us. And he said we made his day.
If you struggle to say “I appreciate you” to your staff or coworkers, build your conversational muscles with people you may never see again.
Guideline #2: Give Feedback
People want feedback. And they want it now, not months from now.
Blame the Boomers for creating that horrible process known as the annual review. People don’t want feedback once a year — they want it in a timely fashion.
Let’s go back to the restaurant scenario. Bryan brought our food to us, then a few minutes later he came back to ask us if everything was all right. He wanted timely feedback. As it happened, my food was way undercooked, and I told him so. He whisked it away and came back shortly with food cooked the way it should have been.
How often have you murmured “it’s fine” when a server or manager asked how your food was? Practice giving the restaurant honest and timely feedback. That will help you develop the mental muscles you need to give your staff and coworkers honest and timely feedback on their work.
Want to learn how to get better at giving feedback? Check out our e-book.
Guideline #3: Grow
Whether you are the CEO or a new project manager, I suspect you want to develop your understanding of people. The first step is to realize we are not all the same. Different people have different interests, different needs, and much more. We are not all like you.
Hundreds, even thousands, of books have been written on multiple aspects of understanding people. The information below is just the tip of the iceberg to help you when it comes to understanding people.
- Introverts and Extraverts
People generally fall into one of two categories: introverts and extraverts. Introverts are people who get their energy from within themselves. They receive energy from focusing on their thoughts, memories, and feelings. They are quiet and tend to avoid group events. When you ask them a question, they will not answer until they have thoroughly thought through their response.
You find a lot of introverts in the engineering world.
Extraverts are very different from introverts, which I’m sure you’re aware of. Extraverts get their energy from the outer world — people, activities, exploration. They need to be around people. If you ask an extravert a question, they will immediately respond. They think out loud, thus they will talk through their response to your question.
You find some extraverts in engineering, but they are in the minority.
- How do you deal with these very different people?
Give introverts information ahead of any meeting. They want time to study and reflect on what is expected in the meeting before they get there. I recommend 24 hours’ advance notice.
Extraverts do not need information before a meeting. At that meeting, give extraverts the time they need to think out loud. They also will spend time checking in with others to see how they’re doing.
Let’s say you’re in a meeting of seven people. After some discussion, you want to get feedback from each attendee. Use a round-robin technique. You, as the leader, turn to each extravert in the room and ask for that person’s feedback. Give the extraverts a few minutes to think out loud. Only then do you ask for input from the introverts. Done that way, introverts have time to think through what they want to say. And you will have feedback from each person in the meeting.
If you follow the steps above, you’ll improve your people management. You’ll remember to tell people that you appreciate them. And you’ll give them constructive and timely feedback — as in within a week or so. And you’ll grow in your understanding of how to handle people.
You can learn more about people management at these links:
MentorLoft.com Blog (Think of the blog posts as being your own private coach. The blog covers a wide range of topics on growing yourself and your people.)
But don’t quit now. We people are complex characters. It takes a lot of learning on your part to better serve your people.
About the Author Pamela A. Scott
Pam is an executive coach to CEOs and business owners, focusing on communication, managing people, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Her tagline says it best: “Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.”®
Pam started her company more than 20 years ago. For much of that time, Pam has coached engineers and architects to be leaders in their companies.
She brings more than 25 years of communications expertise and leadership experience as:
- A national award-winning newspaper editor
- A communications specialist writing for Congress
- A successful entrepreneur specializing in coaching clients to reach their full potential
Clients have ranged from solo practitioners to companies such as Turner Broadcasting System, Coca Cola, Federal Reserve Bank, and engineering firms such as Walter P. Moore. For 15 years, Pam was a member of Vistage, an international organization of CEOs.
Pam has a master’s in education and human development from George Washington University and a bachelor’s in communication from Bethany College. In Toastmasters, she has achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leadership Bronze levels.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on people management and guidelines to develop yourself and your team.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success