In this age of insta-communication, via social media and smartphones, we’ve lost all our good excuses for not keeping in touch. And it’s the same for business: It’s never been easier for companies to maintain high levels of communication within and between departments–but only if they want to. Yet firms still struggle with communication silos, where the so-called right hand doesn’t know what the left-hand is up to. To avoid this dangerous trend, here are some tips.
From the Assembly in ancient Athens to Dale Carnegie’s timeless How to Win Friends and Influence People, the art of persuasion is as ancient as language itself. But just as politicians tailor their stump speeches depending on their audience, so must leaders of engineers know their audience. Below are three ideas help you persuade engineers you are supervising.
Be Visionary but Realistic:
Engineers walk a fine line: They are asked to perform magic in a world where magic doesn’t exist. Yet to be an engineer is to be inspired by the possibilities present in the physical world. As a leader of engineers, one must learn to direct requests to an engineer’s innate love of exploration and discovery… just as long as that request is in the realm of the realistic.
We might quibble with some of Jobs’ quote here, but his underlying point is uncontroversial: Namely, you should never avoid hiring smart people, even people smarter than you are. It’s okay to be a little insecure at first, but you must recognize intelligence in your team as an asset to your goals, rather than a liability to your career. To that end, here are three ways to help you lead employees who are smarter than you.
It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do;
we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.
Engineers have a reputation for being cantankerous and difficult to please. There is an ounce of truth to this stereotype, but much of it can be chalked up to misunderstanding — engineers simply care about their work and want to put forth the best possible product. That being said, if you put several people prone to grumpiness and perfectionism together, you’ll have a potential management disaster on your hands. Thankfully, it can be surprisingly easy to manage engineers and promote a harmonious work environment. They simply need a workplace that promotes productivity, individuality, and cooperation. Keep the following in mind as you strive to get your drama-prone engineering team back on track.
Quants and non-quants lead vastly different lives. Quants value structure, often to the point of rigidity. This is an endless source of frustration for non-quants, who tire of giving specific instructions at every turn and breaking up disagreements among stubborn engineers.
Leading a team of analytic-minded professionals can be shockingly difficult when your personality traits include flexibility and spontaneity. These qualities have value in the workplace, but they must be tempered to meet the specific needs of engineering teams. Detailed below are a few ways you can adapt your personality to fit in better with a team of quants.
Inform Non-Quants of the End Goal
Quants crave structure, so the more you can tell them about a given project, the better. When possible, provide your engineering team with a glimpse of the big picture. Without an idea of the end goal, they may continue to follow orders, even when those orders require fine-tuning.