SO YOU WANT TO BE A MANAGER
By Robert W. Gallant, Dow Chemical U.S.A.
Chemical Engineering. Nov. 9 de 1987
Time banking -- An hour saved is an hour earned.
Bob: All through college, I dreamed of becoming a manager. And when I went to work, my goal was to be a manager. I've been out of college several years now, working in a manufacturing plant of a large chemical company. Some of thework is very stimulating engineering, but much of my time is consumed by routine activities, such as weekly production reports, and getting equipment repaired. These keep me so busy, I don't have a chance to develop my ability to be a manager. I'm not getting any managerial experience. I don't mind working extra hours to achieve my goal, and I expect to spend time building a foundation, but I feelbogged down. I need help. You made it to the management level. What should I do? Chuck
Dear Chuck: If it's any consolation, many engineers struggle with the same concern you have. I certainly did. Being a topnotch engineer all your career can be exciting and rewarding, both professionally and financially, but managers usually enjoy added prestige, more independence, and higher salaries than thosewho stay predominantly as engineers. Managers are let in early on major company decisions, and help shape those decisions. So being a manager has many advantages. But reaching management rank is a difficult task. The competition is stiff and there are no easy routes. Only one out of ten engineers makes it to a significant management level, and only one out of a hundred attains an upper managementposition.
It's important to understand the difference between engineering and management. The discipline we learned in school makes us seek exact answers. The same equations give the same answers as long as we use the same bases. The time frame for knowing if we are right or wrong on a decision is reasonably short, usually less than two years. Mistakes are made in steel and concrete, and can becorrected with dollars. In many cases, the decision and its implementation are in our hands. In contrast, a manager's bases are more nebulous, the results less predictable, and making decisions often means sailing into uncharted waters. Mistakes are measured in flesh and blood, because management decisions invariably affect people. Success or failure may not be known for up to five years, and evenlonger. Most of the manager's decisions call for painful compromises between complex alternatives. Furthermore, the success of those decisions depends on the performance of others. A manager must delegate the authority and responsibility for making many decisions and for implementing all of them. But being a manager is exhilarating, challenging and rewarding.
I thoroughly enjoyed, and thrivedon, being an engineer, but being a manager surpasses anything I ever did. How do you personally lay the foundation for climbing the management ladder? Your present assignment offers fertile ground for developing managerial skills. Many skills essential to being a good manager also make you a better engineer. These can be honed right where you are.
Let me first talk about “time banking”, a veryimportant skill that you should develop, whether you remain an engineer or become a manager. Time banking is to your job what a savings account is to your financial well-being. A savings account earns interest for us. It's a reserve that we can dip into for emergencies, or for purchases planned for the right time at the right price. It gives us financial flexibility. Time banking serves the samepurpose in our job. In its simplest terms, time banking means investing time today to save time tomorrow. For example, you have a routine weekly report that requires about three hours for gathering and calculating the data. It's due on Friday, so you compile the data from the instruments and the operator logsheets on Thursday, do the necessary calculations, and write a brief summary, which you give...
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