How Can You Show Your Company That You’re Ready to Be an Engineering Manager?

How Can You Show Your Company That You’re Ready to Be an Engineering Manager?

? How Can You Show Your Company That You’re Ready to Be an Engineering Manager

I received this question recently from a young engineer and it’s one that many young engineers struggle with. They feel like they are ready to move into management, whether that be managing projects or people, but they don’t know how to show their companies they are ready.  I am going to offer some of my thoughts on this topic here in this article, but I would also ask you to please leave a comment at the bottom of this post with any thoughts, experiences, or advice on the topic that you can share.   Since I am an engineer, and I always think in frameworks, I would like to offer a two-step approach to answering this question.

Step 1 – Practice Makes Perfect  

Firstly, even though you think you are ready for engineering management, you should confirm this by practicing some managerial related tasks, either at work or outside of work. For example, if you are involved in a local professional association, volunteer to manage a project, like an event or a fundraiser. Doing so will force you to utilize management skills similar to the ones you might use in engineering. As part of this process, be sure to seek feedback from your peers by asking them how you performed. You will also see how well you performed based on the results of the event or project.

Another action you can take to ensure that you are ready to start managing is to observe successful managers in your company. Take note of the habits, tendencies and actions that have contributed to their success and start to implement some of them in your day to day activities. I always recommend to engineers that I am coaching (and also my own children) to constantly build better habits. For example, you might find that great managers in your company tend to hold highly productive meetings that are short, focused and provide a clear list of to-do items upon completion. If that's the case, in your association volunteer position or any other areas, run your meetings in a similar manner and cultivate that habit.

Step 2 – Let Them Know This Way  

At this point, after observing other great managers and starting to build your managerial skills, you are ready to start managing. How do you let your company know?   Easy. You can just tell your manager that you are ready to become an engineering manager, right? Think about it. How would you feel if a young engineer that you were managing told you that? I am sure there would be some doubt in your mind. Okay, maybe more than some doubt.  
I would recommend that instead of telling, you SHOW your manager that you are ready by performing actions that a manager performs any way that you can. Here are a few actions you might consider:
  • Volunteer to attend client meetings or presentations that your company is making, and don’t charge your time. Just observe the participants and take note of what’s working for them. When I was a practicing civil engineer, I attended many Planning Board meetings on my own time to learn about the process and see what tactics helped projects move through the approval process quicker. My company appreciated the effort and saw that I was interested in the success of my projects, even as a young engineer, so much so, that I was willing to sacrifice some of my week nights.
  • Make presentations on technical topics at local association events and trade conferences. Public speaking is a skill that will really help you as a manager and showing your company that you can speak effectively sends a message to them that you are on the management path. This action will also build your expertise and credibility in the field and gain exposure for your company.
  • Volunteer to coordinate an office party or other activity. Coordinating anything, is a direct reflection on your project and people management skills. It’s an easy way to show your company that you can be trusted with managing projects that contain several variables.
  • Learn about the financial side of engineering projects in your field. What are the typical profit margins? How does your company price out proposals? Ask your current managers how they learned about these concepts. Any insight into the business side of engineering will give you an advantage as a young engineering manager. 
I could go on, but I would like to hear what you can offer in terms of preparing to be an engineering manager and letting your company know when you are ready.  Please leave any thoughts, experiences, advice or questions for other readers in the comments below.  OPPORTUNITY >> If you are an engineer looking to diagnose your current management abilities potential, please consider being a part of our Summer 2019 Case Study. 
We are in the final stages of building the Current Management Abilities Potential (CMAP) diagnostic tool and by participating in this case study, you’ll get some great 360 feedback on your management skills in return for helping us finalize the tool. If interested, please contact me.  Anthony Fasano, PE -- Engineering Management Institute  [email protected] | 201-857-2384
                                                              Anthony Fasano, PE, F. ASCE
Most civil engineering companies lack training specific to their professionals.  Successful civil engineering professionals need a combination of three skill sets to be successful: 
(1) technical skills, 
(2) project management skills AND (not or) 
(3) people management skills.  
This is the trilogy needed to succeed in the CE world.  Does your firm provide consistent training and support on ALL of these?  I learned this the hard way practicing as a civil engineer myself.  I realized that if I wanted to be a partner in my firm, or if I wanted my team to excel, they needed a good blend of technical, people, and PM skills.  
More than ten years ago, I decided that as much as I love doing civil engineering, I wanted to help CE companies become stronger and grow faster through more effective staff development.  Therefore at the Engineering Management Institute (EMI), we’ve developed a core curriculum of both project and people management skill sets.  We offer routine programs that small CE firms can enroll in and we also customize our programs for larger firms that want to use specific verbiage and guidelines that fit their culture.  
For information on our proven process, contact me at our office at 201-857-2384 or message me here on LinkedIn.  You can also learn about our firm here: 
►  In addition to my work at EMI, I was asked to author a Careers & Leadership blog for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) which allows me to inspire thousands of CEs to grow as engineers and individuals: 
►  “All of our engineers from entry level through upper-level managers have been able to connect with Anthony Fasano of EMI in one way or another. His advice is practical and to the point. 
He is able to engage everyone in the conversation because he is both a good speaker and listener. We are very pleased we found a professional who epitomizes what a successful engineer-leader can be." - VINCENT SIEFERT, P.E., CEO, Siefert Associates

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