Tips for Engineers to Stop Underhanded Behavior

monty burns with fingers together looking deceptive

One of the biggest complaints I hear from fellow engineers is that of feature creep.  For those of you who don’t know, feature creep is the process where others in your project team, or management, get a great idea that they think would be good in your project.  They then proceed to tell the engineer that this feature is critical and needs to be implemented in the system, and then, “how long will it take?”

This post is not devoted to feature creep though.  Its focusing around deceitful and underhanded behavior in trying to coax something out of another person.  It is also about a coworker of mine who came into my office and began to explain how a desired feature was requested by one of the team.  He informed  them that he couldn’t do it in the time he had already allotted, so if she wanted the feature put in, she needed to move the deadline back by a few days to accommodate the development time.  To her, that was not a satisfactory answer, and so she spoke to another in the design team… who then went back to the engineer and asked for the same thing.  Yes, he got the same answer.

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Why Engineers and Managers Can’t Communicate

Hopefully, you have already read A Manager’s Focus and An Engineer’s Focus.  If not, I encourage you to do so, because the purpose of this post is to discuss why it is that engineers and managers tend to have difficulty communicating.  In fact, many times, while watching communication happening during meetings, it is fascinating to realize that both are talking, thinking their point is getting across but in reality they are talking to the equivalent of a brick wall!

Talking to a brick wall

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An Engineer’s Focus

Engineers (of all types) are logical, analytical, and overly detail-oriented individuals.  Because of this, their focus lies in the project on which they are working.  Ok, everyone knows that, but the more interesting facet is that engineers see the world in a completely different way.  Of course, they are fully aware of the future customer, and they are also cognizant of project requirements, but what is different, is how that information is processed.

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A Manager’s Focus

In the world of business, you can look at required tasks several different ways. At the largest scale, you can look at how a company’s stock price fluctuates with organizational decisions, ROI, Resource management and supplier/customer relations.  Each area you turn to, there are many different components which aggregate into the whole.  You can keep going further down until you finally hit those workers who are doing the seemingly menial tasks that must be accomplished in order to get the answers you (the manager) need to have in order to perform your job satisfactorily.

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