DevOps, Candidate Advice | 2 min read

Soft Skills of Successful Engineering Managers

Written by DevOps Republic

It’s no surprise that DevOps professionals continue to be in high demand in our increasingly digital world. Companies need cohesive and collaborative teams of tech professionals to successfully build modern technology products and services. And, as within all teams, leaders are needed to communicate, delegate, and motivate.

These types of soft skills don’t always come naturally to people, technical or not. So, whether you’ve just started a new managerial role, you're looking to sharpen up your soft skills to get that promotion or have been in management for a while and want to refresh your skills - here are 3 soft skills that you'll need to work on to achieve success as an engineering manager.

Communication

Arguably the most important skill for any leader is the ability to communicate clearly, efficiently and with conviction. Being the leader of a successful engineering team requires communication at all levels. This doesn’t necessarily always mean verbal or even written communication. The best leaders back up their words with behaviour that sets the standard for everyone around them.

It's also not just about communicating with your team, successful engineering managers are great communicators across the board. They are comfortable communicating with senior stakeholders and across teams, ensuring that their team is contributing to the company as a whole.

Learn when to advise

As an engineering manager, you must learn to understand when your input is required and, just as importantly, when your team are ok being left to it. It can be incredibly frustrating having a manager unnecessarily supervise a task. Don't fall into the trap of not giving your team the freedom, autonomy and trust to get the job done without your input - no one likes a micro-manager! Promoting a culture of accountability is crucial in a complex environment like engineering.

Saying this, more junior members of the team not only crave direction and guidance—they often need it to build confidence and expertise. Sometimes an extra set of (experienced) eyes can be crucial.

Great engineering managers have mastered the skill of assessing the situation, including knowing when it's appropriate to let the team run with a project and when it's time to step in and offer advice.

Empathy

Almost as important as communication, if you are unable to empathise with your team you will inevitably face challenges. It will be difficult to build a team culture where your employees are motivated and high performing. And the trust that's necessary to cooperate and produce great work will be hard to formulate.

It's important to make yourself available for questions, even if you're in the middle of something. You want your employees to feel as though they can come to you with ideas, challenges and questions. It’s important that you spend the time developing your team from the junior members to the more senior engineers. This will ensure better performance and will ultimately improve productivity.

 

Whether you’re new to leading a team or have been honing these skills for years, being an engineering manager is definitely a balancing act between engineering and managing a team. But once you harness some of the key soft skills that are needed you'll definitely be on your way to creating a successful, high-performing team.

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