Three traps engineering leaders set for their new managers
Penny Campbell
363

I worked throughout my career as an engineer, and always avoided moving into any type of management, although I was tempted a few times, mostly by the higher pay immediately offered, but even more because I was pretty sure I could do a better job than a lot of those who were “promoted”.

But, I resisted, and I’m glad I did, because the assumption seemed to be that management is just an advanced aspect of technical skills, combined with a somewhat outgoing personality. Treating a move into management of other engineers or technical specialists as a complete career change would have been seen as silly by my managers.

And it showed in the organization. Some managers were actually pretty good, but more were not, and the efforts of the mid- and higher-level managers to make a team leader or group leader look good, and thus justify their decision to promote them, especially when the promotion was a mistake, or even a disaster, drove a lot of good people to look for other jobs.

I hope your essay, and your approach, get more attention in technical organizations. It would require substantial (or even massive) adjustments to current practices, but the eventual result could really enhance the performance of the organization, not to mention the happiness and satisfaction of lots of engineers who feel that they have to move into management in order to move up in the organization.

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