It is not uncommon for engineers to be managed by non-engineers, such as product managers. In fact, while engineers would usually have another engineer as their first level manager, it is likely that their second level manager is someone from a totally different background like product management, marketing, sales, or business development.
With this kind of setup, it is inevitable to have some tension within the work environment, given the differences between the team’s general personality and their manager’s. There is a general notion that engineers work differently from other departments within the company, aside from the impression that the team is usually comprised of introverts.
If you are a product manager, part of your job is to collaborate closely with other teams, including engineers. Here are some basic tips on how to manage engineers so you have a positive and productive working relationship with them:
Give Them the Space They Need
As mentioned earlier, engineers in general are introverts. Acknowledge the fact that introverts prefer to work alone, so as much as possible, give them the space they need to produce the work that you need them to accomplish. Also keep this in mind when you ask them a question, as they might need some time before they could give you an answer.
Create an environment that will motivate your engineers to engage in meaningful discussions outside their ‘time alone’. One way to do this is to have a regular coffee session among your engineers and other members of your team. The relaxed environment will make them feel comfortable in joining the discussions and encourage them to give valuable insights.
Understand Their Work Process
This is something that doesn’t get discussed when you sign up for a product management training course.What most managers fail to understand is that it can be very challenging for engineers to work towards a schedule, especially when product design is involved. For one, working with a new feature that no one in the team has ever worked on can make it impossible to gauge the duration for completion for this particular feature.
As this is something new, there are countless possibilities that no one will be able to anticipate and this will definitely impact their ability to complete their task within a set schedule.
Treat Them with Respect – They Earned It
Some managers fail to see engineers as intelligent individuals who have had more schooling than most of their managers and micromanaging them will not make them produce the outputs that they have been hired to deliver. Resist the temptation to treat them like production and seek their inputs and involve them in office initiatives. Giving them the respect and motivation they need will prove to be a good move that will bring out the assets that they are.
So, there you have it. Keep these basic managing tips when working with your team of engineers and you will find how effectively collaborating with them can bring about efficiency and a truly great product!
Michelle Rubio has been writing for SMEs across the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK for the last five years. She is a highly-experienced blogger and SEO copywriter, writing business blogs for various industries such as marketing, law, health and wellness, beauty, and education, particularly on product management training such as those offered by ProductSchool.com.