In this episode, I am going to answer some questions from some of the engineers who participated in our Engineering Management Accelerator Online Workshop. We had so many great questions during this course related to professional development, job promotions, communication, leadership and more, that I decided to share the answers here so that engineers all over the world can benefit from them.
Here is the summary of questions and answers from a recent group coaching call during the Engineering Management Accelerator Online Workshop:
What feedback should I be asking for now, in order to go for a promotion in three to six months?
- I would be pretty straightforward and say, “I want to be in XYZ position in the near future, and I’m wondering what steps you think I need to take or what strengths or skill sets I need to improve to be able to get there?”
- I would then follow up with that person in an email to ask for feedback after you’ve worked on your skills.
How should I look to manage a potential internal move? I want to shift projects that I don’t see as helpful to the new role, but keep some that will likely help advance some big objectives for the company?
- I think in this situation, you have to be sensitive to people that might be upset about your move, which might be your clients or internal managers that are overseeing you. You need to be really smart with them in terms of how you’re going to pitch that to them.
- I think the key thing with this in general, is that you don’t want to offend anyone, and you don’t want to make anyone feel like their project is less important than another project. So you have to say things in ways that hint that, “It’s in the best interest of the project if you move the project to a new manager that has the energy, and the capacity to deal with it in their current situation.”
- Make sure that you do this in a timely manner. If you’re thinking three to six months, then you probably need to start the planning process soon. If you just approach them and wing the offer, it’s different than if you come to them with a written plan or steps of how you propose to transition these projects.
How do you recommend starting a conversation with a contentious colleague who is often producing duplicate work due to poor communication?
- I think you always have to assume that people will respond negatively to any kind of criticism. So, one of the things that you can do is you can use what’s called the sandwich approach, where you start the conversation by complimenting the person, then go into the constructive criticism, and then end off with a compliment.
- This works well because you can always think of something positive someone does and then talk about some of the negative stuff in between, and that should be a better motivator for change.
- If you take the approach of, “Let’s work together and resolve this for the long-term,” it usually works well because most people want things to be better in the long-term.
Regarding leadership, I understand that it’s about motivating and helping people improve. So rather than being perceived as the micro manager and doing it for them, how do you persuade them to do what you want without both parties becoming frustrated? Is it a balance between authoritarian and casual?
- They need to understand what the mission or the goal of the team, project or company is. If they understand the mission and they’re on board with that mission, then everyone on your team should be excited to move towards that goal.
- Your job as the leader is to motivate them and to talk about the benefits of achieving that goal, to talk about the people you’re helping, or even how the team will benefit.
- If you want to get to the root of this, you need to really dive into what they are focused on and why?
You’ve mentioned that part of leadership is respect, and I wanted to know more about gaining respect across teams both in the company and externally?
- I think the biggest thing about respect and credibility, is becoming an expert at something.
- We actually have a one-hour session on this in the Engineering Management Accelerator Workshop on building expertise. And the best way to do that, as I walk through in the session, is to write and speak on the topics of choice.
- Within your company and outside your company, you need to speak and write on topics that you want to build expertise in. People are going to continue to see you as an expert if you’re positioning yourself as an expert.
What methods have you used to systematically discover what you need or what others need?
- For me personally, I have a coach and we have metrics that we need to meet in the business and for me personally. That helps me to understand the systematic way because we measure the KPIs every time he and I talk. You need to have a way to measure yourself and that’s one way to do it.
- The other way to do it is to use assessments. There are assessments like StrengthsFinder and others that can help you assess and understand what your strengths are.
More in this episode…
In the Take Action Today segment of the show, I answer one more question about how to become more outgoing and engaging.
Books mentioned in this session include:
Resources and links mentioned in this session include:
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How can you become an expert in engineering management?
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success