Episode 12: How Technical People can do Better as Managers

It is well known that once technical employee’s have years of experience in their fields they get promoted to a management position. Some of the skills these new managers need to succeed is the advanced knowledge to oversee an engineering or design department. While other skills that are common to all managers, they may need to work on developing. Arlyne Diamond is a consultant who has helped high level managers and organizations at large increase their management efficiency and operations through a people first approach.

Soft Skills vs Hard Skills

A composite discussion during this episode that relates to the overall content was on soft skills vs hard skills. Soft skills are the skills that are learned by interacting with people such as empathy, communication and interpersonal skills. Hard skills are those that are gained from doing the day to day activities one might as an engineer or designer.

Soft skills are harder to learn than the hard skills because the soft skills can be vague, diffuse and rely on many intervening variables

We often think of hard skills as the most important things when it comes to engineering or design. Once you become a manager it becomes ever more important to have the soft skills. For example, Arlyne suggests that CEO’s who lack some people skills should hire a VP that has people skills to make up for that weakness while also learning them from that VP or a coach.

Learning People Skills

As a manager, learning these people skills sometimes takes working with someone like Arlyne to pick up the basics and then grow them into your own personal approach to managing people. The other way is to start with the approach the manager decides will be most effective. Some of these managerial styles are:

  • Visionary
  • Democratic
  • Transformational
  • Coaching

All of these rely on different people skills because instead of implementing decisions that affect the outcome of work directly such as with the hard skills, the manager is effectively delegating the outcome of the work to other people. In order to do so in a manner that works, the manager must rely on their intrinsic methods as it fits within the overall framework of the organization. It is the managers responsibility to employ the best way he/she can provide this leadership to the organization. The success of the company depends on it.

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