The Importance of Delegating Engineering Tasks

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The need to be a "star," to be recognized as the person behind a project is built into most engineers. This need seems to be strongest in young engineering managers or those recently promoted to supervisory posts.

But for most projects to get off the ground and succeed, engineering managers must delegate responsibility, even if they're convinced that they could cover all of the bases themselves. It's not smart to have an entire project depend on one person. It's also unfair to subordinates.

Ideally, you should have the project organized and the workload partitioned so that things move smoothly along in your absence—in the event you had an emergency out-of-town meeting, or you were off a few days for an illness or vacation.

Senior engineers and managers often insist that they take on the lion's share of the job because subordinates are too young or inexperienced. But being a good leader means developing younger engineers under you, and taking the time when things are slow (or slower) to refine and hone their skills in initiative, resourcefulness and judgment. One way to do that is to give top performers increasing levels of responsibility. That means refusing to micromanage jobs and giving underlings some authority in key decisions.

As a manager, you need to test your engineers to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This is important because when really big jobs come in, you'll know who you can count on to take the reins without a lot of supervision.

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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