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The Ultimate Engineering Manager Training Guide 

Engineering training is important for new managers who are eager to build rapport with a new team.

By Hannah Ross  •   July 12, 2022  •   7 min read

In the real world, there often isn’t an engineering manager training guide. Engineers go from being individual contributors and working in a team to being solely responsible for themselves and their teammates. While working in a team often feels inclusive and rewarding, the road to management can be lonely and sometimes confusing. 

When you make the transition from engineer to manager, you most likely won’t receive any management training and will instead rely on your engineering expertise to hit the ground running. Luckily, this guide can act as a reference point for when you begin to make the transition. 

Whether you’re an engineering manager in training or the person responsible for training an incoming engineering manager, this guide will outline the dos and don’ts in great detail. You can expect to learn favorable skills amongst engineering managers as well as what needs to be avoided when training an engineering manager. 

What is an engineering manager’s role? 

Engineering managers juggle people engagement, project management, and technical tasks. In a typical day, engineering managers balance a variety of responsibilities including directing, planning, and coordinating activities. A large part of an engineering manager’s role is supervising or managing a team of engineers as they move through research and development. 

From holding team meetings, to guiding teammates, to creating playbooks, and leading projects, an engineering manager’s day-to-day life always looks different, and their core responsibilities vary based on their goals and objectives. Everything an engineering manager does stems from their need to deliver the best possible product in the best way, with the best team. Continual maintenance, quality assurance, and problem-solving are all fundamental pillars by which engineering managers live. 

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Skills to develop for engineering managers

If you’re looking to become an engineering manager, these skills are well-worth exploring:

  • A high degree of emotional intelligence
  • The ability to prioritize tasks for oneself and teams 
  • The ability to think strategically and plan long-term 
  • The ability to build trust and bring teams together 
  • The ability to bring people together to solve problems 
  • The ability to provide constructive criticism and feedback

Engineering manager training must-dos 

1Understand your new role

The first thing you need to do when learning to be successful in a new role is formulate a deep understanding of your role. You may be an excellent engineer, but this doesn’t mean you’ve fully grasped what it means to be an engineering manager. The best way to learn about your new role is to seek guidance from those who know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. If you’ve done your own research and require additional guidance or information, it’s best to reach out to other engineering managers in your network who can offer expert advice.

2Prioritize your focus

Everyone wants to hit the ground running when they start out in a new role, but it’s important to take everything in stride. If you fly out of the gate and try to learn or do everything at once, you’ll find yourself spinning in circles. Learning how to prioritize your focus in a new role can be difficult, but learning what needs your immediate attention most will continue to prove important. 

3Get to know your team

A huge part of being a successful manager is getting to know your team and learning what their preferences are. Do you know how your teammates prefer to communicate? Do you understand their working style? Do you know what inspires them to wake up and go to work every day? If you don’t take the time to get to know your teammates and formulate trusting relationships, you won’t be able to effectively lead them. Take the time to learn how to manage them effectively so you can help them reach their full potential.  

4Schedule regular one-on-one’s

One of the biggest factors you need to consider when you transition from engineer to manager is remembering that you’re now responsible for a team of people. If you don’t take the time to build rapport and cultivate positive relationships with those on your team, you won’t be able to lead effectively. 

To build rapport, host frequent one-on-one meetings with your team. These meetings will give you the opportunity to learn how you can support your teammates while you help cultivate their skills and guide them towards success. This meeting template will ensure your one-on-one meeting runs smoothly from start to finish.  

5Ask and give feedback

Feedback is a gift. Managers may not always know where they stand, and asking for feedback is the easiest way to gain insights into your performance. Not only can you ask your direct reports, but you can also ask other managers in your organization who may witness you in action during your shared meetings. If you don’t take the time to seek feedback, you won’t be able to refine your skills or perfect your craft. 

As a manger, you should be able to take feedback and run with it. If you don’t refine your skills and continuously improve, you’ll become stagnant in your career. It’s best to seek feedback in all aspects of your role. Take the time to learn what your teammates think of your management style and make adjustments accordingly. 

Engineering manager training don’ts

1Avoid explaining their role

One of the worst things you can do for an engineering manager is to not familiarize them with their role. It’s important that the incoming engineering manager has a clear understanding of their role so they know exactly what they’re getting into before they start. While there will always be unknowns, it’s best to eliminate as many surprises upfront as possible. 

2Stop them from asking questions

Anyone embarking on a new journey will have questions. Engineering manager training is the perfect opportunity for the engineering manager to ask any questions that may be weighing on them. If they don’t feel comfortable asking questions, they may miss out on crucial details that they need to excel in their role. If you don’t take the time to let them ask questions during their training, you may ultimately be hindering their success. 

3Avoid instilling confidence in them 

It’s normal to feel nervous when starting a new role, but luckily there are lots of things you can do to make your incoming engineering manager feel at ease! The most important thing that you can do is make them feel comfortable and empowered. They were hired for a reason, and you should remind them of such. Reassuring them is one of the best things you can do to make them feel confident in their new role. 

4Avoid giving them feedback 

Providing someone with constructive criticism or feedback is one of the most important things you can do for their career. If someone’s just starting out, chances are they would welcome feedback. Not only does providing an incoming engineering manager with feedback demonstrate that you’re invested in their success, but it also helps them refine their skills and identify areas in which they need to improve. 

While constructive criticism can be beneficial, it’s important to be respectful in your approach. Ensure that you provide positive feedback and let them know what they’re doing well. 

5Avoid providing support 

Support is crucial for anyone, especially for someone who’s taking on more responsibility or starting a new role. Management can often be lonely and even more so for those who are used to contributing as part of a team. It’s important that you demonstrate your support for incoming engineering managers so they know they have a network they can trust when they need guidance or advice. If they don’t feel supported, they may want to return to their previous role or even leave the organization altogether. Failing to show your support is the quickest way to demonstrate that you don’t support them in their new role. 

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Refine your engineering manager training process today 

The transition from engineer to engineering manager can be difficult, especially if there isn’t a proper training system in place for the incoming engineering manager. Taking the time to refine your approach and develop a thorough plan may be what stands between success and future for the incoming engineering manager. It’s important to create a guide that empowers them to take on their new role with confidence while ensuring they have everything they need to succeed. Feel free to use this article as a reference moving forward!

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