A Message from Pearl Jam: Before You Become an Engineering Manager, Understand What Comes Along with the Title

“All the things that others want for me, can’t buy what I want because it’s free.”

This a line from a song entitled “Corduroy” by the popular band Pearl Jam, led by famous vocalist Eddie Vedder.

There has been much debate about the meaning of the song, but interviews with Vedder, as well as the lyrics, suggest that the song is describing the pressures of fame.

It’s been said that the song is specifically about Vedder’s ability (or struggle) to cope with all the attention fame has brought him and also about others taking advantage of his fame for their own personal gain.

For example, the line at the top of this article about all the things that others want indicates frustration, because he’s financially wealthy and can have any material item that he wants. But he can’t buy what he really wants — anonymity — which is free.

Engineering Management Is Highly Coveted

I have talked to, interviewed, and provided management coaching and training to thousands of engineers over the past 10 years. When I ask engineers what their primary career goals are, the answer I get 90% of the time is, “I’d like to become an engineering manager, principal, partner, or owner of my firm.”

Engineering Manager

When I ask the follow-up question, “Why,” the answers vary greatly, but the initial answer is that same one 90% of the time: “I want to go from engineer to manager and beyond.”

Like all rock stars out there wants to become famous, all engineers (or most) want to become managers and powerful leaders in their firms and industries.

Are You Aware of What Comes Along with Being an Engineering Manager?

Personally, I think becoming an engineering manager and ultimately a leader in your firm and community is a wonderful goal to pursue. If you achieve it, you can have a massively positive impact on other engineers, as well as the community you serve. That being said, you should be aware of what comes along with the title.

Here are a few things that people may not tell you, but you should know as you strive for fame — sorry, I meant Engineering Management:

  1. With great power comes great responsibility. As an engineering manager, you will be responsible for many things, including managing other people, their productivity, and their problems. You may be responsible for maintaining client relationships, be the last line of defence for quality control, and of course, put your engineering license (and livelihood) on the line every time you sign and seal engineering plans and specifications.
  2. You will work a lot of hours. Although this depends on which sector you work in, there are very few engineering managers I know who work 35 or even 45 hours per week. It doesn’t happen. Because of all of the items mentioned in item #1 above, you’ll work long hours, and even when you’re “off,” you won’t be off — your smartphone will be “on.”
  3. You will get a lot of questions. There is nothing wrong with questions (in fact, I encourage my team to ask them), but as a manager, younger and less experienced staff will come to you with many questions. To be a strong leader, you’ll need to listen to people and help them, which ties back into #2 above — you’ll work more hours.
  4. You will have to deal with difficult people. As an engineering manager, you’ll deal with more people because of your position. You will be involved with your staff, clients, other leaders in the firm, other consultants, etc. Therefore, by default, some of them will be difficult, adding more stress to your daily routine. The positive here is that if you desire to, you can learn how to do this effectively and build very strong interpersonal skills.
  5. You may not get paid as much as you think you will. Many engineers aspire to be managers, partners, or owners because they think these positions provide financial stability. They might, but that’s not guaranteed. Depending on your industry, the economy may drive your salary and/or bonus structure. Your firm’s overall success and customer satisfaction levels may also dictate your financial well-being. It is by no means automatic that you become financially wealthy when you achieve these positions. And as the character in the song “Corduroy” finds out, sometimes a financial windfall doesn’t make up for the other non-monetary costs of the fame — I mean management.

But Wait, It’s Not All That Bad…

At the Engineering Management Institute (EMI), we help engineering professionals make the transition into management positions and then help them become effective managers, so I certainly don’t want you to think an engineering manager is only a stressful, difficult position, with no rewards.

While the points I listed above could add stress to your career if not handled properly, here are some really positive aspects of becoming an engineering manager:

  1. You can create a positive impact. The impact you can drive will depend on your industry and specific position, but as engineers, we are focusing on solving some of the biggest problems in the world, and as a leader in your field, you can be a critical component of one of these solutions. There’s no better feeling than that.
  2. You can shape the careers of other engineers. How many engineers do you know who will tell you that they had one manager who truly changed their careers or lives? I know many. See a video here of me talking to one. As a manager, you have a tremendous amount of influence over those people that you manage. I hope you’ll use it wisely.
  3. You can do good for your community. Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam have used their platform to do so many good things for so many good causes. As a successful engineering manager, you can do the same. You can offer to mentor younger engineers. You can volunteer to speak to young children about engineering and STEM careers. You will have a platform. I hope you’ll use it wisely. We are trying to here — please leave a comment to help us.
  4. You can drive real change in your company, and beyond. Innovation is critical in society today and as an engineering leader, you can use innovation to achieve all of the previous points I mentioned. And by doing so, you might inspire many other engineers to be more innovative — again, making an impact.
  5. You’ll have power. I hope you’ll use it wisely.

So, if you are an engineering manager, I hope you’ll use that platform in a powerful, positive way, and if you’re aspiring to be a manager, I hope this post will shed some light on what’s ahead.

“All the things that others want for me, can’t buy what I want because it’s free.”

The Next Session of the Engineering Management Accelerator Remote Workshop Starts Soon…

If you’re an engineer looking to develop your managerial skills, or an engineering leader looking to build the management skills of your team members, please consider enrollment in the next session of the Engineering Management Accelerator remote workshop. You can find details here or contact our office at 800-920-4007.

If interested, please reply to this email or contact our office at 800-920-4007. If you would like to receive it every month, please contact me.

We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on becoming an engineering manager. 

Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.

  • If you enjoyed this post, please consider downloading our free list of 33 Productivity Routines of Top Engineering Executives. Click the button below to download.

    Download the Productivity Routines

Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success

Source link

Good Ads

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please Disable AdBlock