From the Director’s Desk: Doers as Managers

Good engineers often establish their reputation by getting the job done. In the early stages of an engineering career, this can often be an individual pursuit. The problem with the propensity for getting things done is there may sometimes be an impatience toward trying to work through or with others. After all, waiting on others to get things done is rarely as efficient as doing it ourselves.

Learning to work through others is one of the more difficult aspects of becoming a manager.
By not delegating, as we become managers, we dis-empower our people. By not giving them the chance to rise to the occasion, we do ourselves, our people and our organization a disservice. In the extreme, we become such good doers that we demotivate our subordinates, we make ourselves the hub of activity and we reduce the productive capacity of the organization. The term I used to use is “single threaded’, by that I mean the organization is waiting on the decisions and the initiatives of a single individual and becomes bottle-necked. Every time an organization has one of these superstar employees, you can rest assured the effective capacity is probably constrained and that person has effectively become a bottleneck. Innovation can also become constrained as the bottleneck is probably also constraining creativity.

To manage well means knowing when to delegate, when to execute as an individual and when and how to best leverage others and their ideas and passions. It requires that you know the skills and capabilities of others and appreciate others for what they can do for the “project” or organization.

Mark Werwath

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