What Does Exceptional Engineering Management Look Like?

By Gary Hinkle Managing engineering and other technical functions is mind-bogglingly difficult for many people in these roles. It’s more difficult than managing non-technical work because of the complexity involved and what’s at stake. The challenges related to managing technical work require special skills and suitable people who embrace the challenges. There is a severe…

What Keeps Engineers from Advancing in Their Careers?

By Gary Hinkle
Chris is an engineer at a leading scientific instrument company, and his career is stuck. He hasn’t been promoted in years. He’s an Engineer III, but he thinks he should be at least a IV (out of six levels altogether). He has more than ten years of experience, and he knows he’s made several significant technical contributions to the company’s products.

Are You a Manager or an Engineer?

By Gary Hinkle
Jeff’s venture into engineering management isn’t quite what he expected. He manages a group of seven engineers at a semiconductor company, but he continues to work as a hands-on engineer. He’s highly regarded for his technical expertise, which is why he was offered the management position five years ago.

No Budget for That!

By Gary Hinkle
There’s a TV commercial for oil filters where the mechanic warns the customer, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” Of course what he means is maintain your car, or wait for an expensive breakdown and an engine overhaul.

If They Had It To Do Over …

By Steve Wetterling
There was once a very successful American company that made clothes washers. Their machines did a good job of washing clothes and delivered decades of reliable service. When we were newly married college grads, we purchased one as soon as we could afford to. It washed our clothes for 24 years.

Measure Productivity–Or Else

By Gary Hinkle
It’s amazing how many managers say they don’t have budget for productivity initiatives. Some think “productivity” is a fuzzy word, and few managers know how to measure it. But productivity can and should be measured. It’s step one towards continuous improvement.

Rating Engineers – A Tool

By Gary Hinkle
Engineering managers often ask me how they should “rate” engineers. Recently, I developed a specific tool to assess overall engineering competency. The tool can be used by both the managers doing the rating as well as the engineers being rated. Even if your company has its own rating system, this assessment tool can supplement your system as a general assessment for just about any engineering job.

Why the PMP Credential (Project Management Professional) Isn’t Enough

By Steve Wetterling
Proponents (including me) of project management methods and practices extol this invention as the best way to do all work that falls in the category of “new stuff.” When project teams skillfully develop a charter, scope and limits statements, work breakdown structures, schedules, budgets, risk analyses, etc.—and hold to them—they’re far more likely to succeed than projects teams that do not.