Keeping the bigger picture in mind

Strategic Thinker Traits — abstract illustration
Strategic Thinker Traits — abstract illustration
Photo dizanna on depositphotos

Do you consider what’s going on around you — in your unit, company, industry, and wider business environment? Do you look for opportunities that might give your organization better results in the future? Your answers can help you to find out if you have the skills and traits of a strategic thinker.

Future focus

Suppose you work at a financial institution that’s trying to increase its revenue margins so that it can open a new office. A senior manager suggests cutting overtime to reduce operational costs. But you know that if you cut overtime, you’ll be understaffed at peak business times.


How to overcome challenges and stay true to your organization’s goals

Strategic Thinking Characteristics — abstract illustration
Strategic Thinking Characteristics — abstract illustration
Photo by peshkova on depositphotos

Managers face a whole variety of problems — anything from product delivery issues to competitive threats to long call wait times in the customer support department.

You don’t find the right solutions by making quick decisions to change day-to-day processes, plans, or procedures. Managers have a much broader responsibility to think strategically when dealing with problems.

Focus on vision

A key characteristic of strategic thinking is its focus on vision. An organization’s vision is defined by its leadership and sets out what its goals and objectives are. …

On professional rewards, job content, career rewards and, to a lesser degree, monetary rewards

Motivating Technical Professionals — abstract illustration
Motivating Technical Professionals — abstract illustration
Photo by Mykola on depositphotos

The importance of motivation

Any good manager knows that when employees are highly motivated, their performance can improve significantly. They push themselves to perform at their best and strive to accomplish more. So as a manager, an important aspect of your job is to motivate the people you manage.

Often, technical professionals work long hours on tasks that require intense concentration. Sustaining this effort depends a lot on motivation. But what typically motivates technical professionals?

As a technical manager, you need to determine what motivates your team members if you’re to succeed in inspiring them to perform at their best.

What typically motivates technical…

How to demonstrate the relevance of your job to them, show interest in their work, and be consistent

Building Trust as a Manager of Technical Professionals — abstract illustration
Building Trust as a Manager of Technical Professionals — abstract illustration
Photo Devon on depositphotos

The importance of trust

To be an effective manager, you have to be able to engage with and motivate the employees who work for you. But before this can happen, your employees have to trust you. And it can sometimes be difficult to earn this trust.

A manager may struggle to attain credibility and trust among technical professionals for various reasons:

  • technical professionals think of the management function as unnecessary or irrelevant,
  • they have a higher level of expertise than the manager, or
  • they have more current technical knowledge in comparison to that of the manager.

When technical professionals do trust their managers and…

Getting highly intelligent and creative people to do their work within the confines of business realities

Challenges of Managing Technical Professionals — abstract illustration
Challenges of Managing Technical Professionals — abstract illustration
Photo by nd3000 on depositphotos

Challenges technical managers face

As a manager of technical professionals, you’ll be dealing with many challenges relating to the way you interact with your staff. While previously you have been concerned with getting the job done, you might now in be a position in which you must provide leadership.

Sometimes this involves getting highly intelligent and creative people to do their work within the confines of business realities, such as budgets, time frames, and company standards — even when they disagree with these.

The Radio Corporation of America, or RCA, provides an example of this kind of situation and what can happen if it’s…

On the commander, shepherd, bureaucrat, and entrepreneur styles

Choosing an Appropriate Leadership Style — abstract illustration
Choosing an Appropriate Leadership Style — abstract illustration
Photo by balein on depositphotos

Transitioning into the role of managing technical professionals means your relationship with individuals who were previously your peers will change. As you transition into the role and develop new relationships with them, you’ll need to think about how you’ll lead these individuals and others who join your team. In other words, you need to choose a leadership style.

To achieve goals as a manager, you need to use a leadership style suited to your circumstances.

Leadership styles

You may think it’s best to stick to one leadership style so you’re consistent and so employees know what to expect from you. However, a…

Acknowledge that relationships have to change and encourage a climate of openness

Moving from Peer to Boss — abstract illustration
Moving from Peer to Boss — abstract illustration
Photo by lightsource on depositphotos

Moving into management

When you move from being a technical professional to being a manager, you’re likely to face several challenges — especially when it comes to dealing with your former peers. Not handling this situation well can cause tension within the team and lead to an unproductive work environment.

Cody is an ambitious programmer at a telecommunications software company. He’s outgoing and gets along well with his teammates.

When the team leader leaves, Cody is promoted to the position. This raises issues among some of Cody’s former peers, whom Cody now manages.

See each of the team members to learn about their…

How to shift your focus

Moving to Management — abstract illustration
Moving to Management — abstract illustration
Photo by everythingposs on depositphotos

Management competencies

The coach of a sports team has the same main objective as each player — to achieve victory for the team. But the coach has to adopt a different perspective and use skills quite different than those of the players. Similarly, if you’re transitioning into a management role from a technical professional role, you need to think about developing competencies other than those that helped you succeed in your old role.

As you transition into your new role as manager, it’s especially important to develop and strengthen competencies in four areas:

  • focus on people instead of objects, ideas, or tasks,

Why some qualities can hamper effective management

Analyzing Your Strengths as a Technical Professional — abstract illustration
Analyzing Your Strengths as a Technical Professional — abstract illustration
Photo by PixelsAway on depositphotos

Knowing your strengths

As a technical professional, you have specific strengths that have helped you succeed. You probably also have some weaknesses that have hindered your work.

As you move into a management role, it’s important to assess your strengths and weaknesses so that you can consider how they’ll affect your performance as a manager.

Assessing your strengths and weaknesses can have two main benefits:

  • it will help you capitalize on your strengths and compensate for weaknesses as you develop a strategy for making your transition into management a success, and
  • it will reduce some of the stress associated with this transition.

Qualities of technical professionals


A career change that can be disruptive and challenging

Transition to Management — abstract illustration
Transition to Management — abstract illustration
Photo by everythingposs on depositphotos

Preparing for a management role

The transition from technical professional to manager involves a career change — and this can be disruptive and challenging. Your focus shifts from the factual world of systems and processes to one of budgets, people, and politics. Even if you’re highly skilled in your field, you’ll need different skills to be a good manager — so preparation is essential.

To prepare for your move into management, you should consider taking these four steps:

  • educate yourself about how your company works and what it takes to be a good manager,
  • examine and align yourself with your company’s mission and culture,
  • think…

Sorin Dumitrascu

A consultant, trainer and author specialized in management, corrections and industrial relations

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