Five Esses of Management Success
We all want to succeed at our tasks, positions, and careers. There are several areas that CAD/BIM Managers need to address to assist with their success. By starting or reenergizing these areas of review, you can push your progress forward.
It always starts here. You have to get Standards rock solid. They must be followed to provide control over output. Standards must be respected as a tool to get better production, not an end in themselves. Your firm does not get paid for creating perfect CAD files of BIM models. They get paid to design. You want a bottom line—here it is: The Standard helps increase your speed, quality, and productivity.
In all my years of working in CAD and BIM, nothing has improved my environment better than a strong Standard/Guideline. Training has its value. Support has its benefits. Resellers and Autodesk can provide help. But nothing is more valuable to a Tech Manager than a Standard that has been created, tested in the trenches, and refined over time.
The reasons for this are simple:
- It allows your users/teams/firms to work together
- It allows your firm to unify the product
- It allows your staff to know what is expected of them and what to expect from others
- It allows your management to think about other things
- It allows you to measure success
The Standard should be as brief as possible and still be effective. Keep it as short and as simple as you can, but not so short and sweet that it is not effective. Cover what needs to be covered to the depth that is needed and then stop. Don’t embellish. Keep the focus on the facts. Get the information produced and documented in understandable language that makes sense to your readers. Use plenty of screen captures if you can. Nothing beats a good screen shot of a dialog box with settings checked.
The Standard should not get overly focused, nor spend too much time documenting things that are not causing problems for people. Don’t spend too much time majoring in the minors. If you do, you will create a monstrosity of a Standard that no one uses. The amount of time you spend on any given topic is related to the amount of time that you spend correcting problems for that area. If an area is not a problem, move through it quickly. If it is a constant source of troubles, then spend more time defining what is needed for that issue.
Don’t expect anyone to read the Standard. Okay, you have just finished defining, collecting, collating, writing, and publishing your Standard. Now act like no one will ever read it. The reason I say that is because “if” people read it, it will be because you make them. Most of them will not care to read it. They will ask you what it says and they will expect you to know it like the back of your hand. They will seek the easiest way to get the information. If you are that way—they will use you.
This is your tech savvy. Like your Standard, it has to be current, relevant, and extensive. You need to know the tools you manage. If you are new to the role of CAD or BIM Manager, then your skills will still be sharp. As you move farther and farther from production, you start losing the edge that you may have brought by being the best tech jockey on the floor.
Keep current by staying connected to production. It might be that your job function includes production time, making this less of a concern. But if you are distant, then stay connected to the best production staff at your firm. Talk shop as much as you can. Pick their brains for the latest ideas. Run your management ideas past them. Stay connected.
This is your management and leadership style. You need to understand how you approach each new idea, discussion, decision, and personal interaction. It is a combination of your demeanor, methods, drive, perspective, and desire. You will have to modify your approach from time to time depending on the situation and person/team. I call it Customized Leadership. It is a realization that one size does not fit all.
Early career managers often approach every situation using the same method. They expect others to bend to their will, or change their minds when information is provided. They may have one style—be it begging, whining, or demanding. When they encounter someone that does not respond to the standard approach, they have no other options. I encourage you to read as much as you can on management and leadership. You will use every concept and idea from all that you read at some point. Learn to be nimble and adjust.
You have to provide solutions to succeed. Fixing problems is paramount. Keeping things moving is critical. But Tech Management is not just about maintenance. If all you do is keep the lights on, then you will fall behind. Obviously success is needed, but keep in mind that success breeds more success. Start with small achievements and build on them. People will start trusting you with bigger items. Providing solutions means that you focus on keeping people working. You get them back on task or develop a workaround while they wait for the ultimate fix.
You may be the only person watching over the entire design technology environment. “Staff” may be just you. Count yourself lucky if you have staff helping you.
If you have staff, keep them on their toes and helping where needed. Interact with them in such a way that you build trust and confidence. You need to have them be an extension of you. Share your vision and goals; share with them your outlook and perspective; share your approach and plans. Keep them informed and a part of the conversation of CAD/BIM. Have them join in the planning and budget talks. Let them interact with vendors. You need to manage people as well as technology. You spent a great deal of time learning how to use the tech tools. Now learn about managing people.
If you do not have staff, ask for some. Do not be afraid to let management know that you can get more done with help. If budget precludes you from adding employees, then enlist the internal user community. Pull together a team of users and treat them just like staff. No, you cannot order them to do things, but you can ask them to help out. I have found that the best users want to be involved in management efforts. They have great ideas and want to share them. Keep them involved and you just might double your output and effectiveness.
By remembering all of these areas that share the same originating letter as success, you can smooth the road in front of you and build on your talents. Make a habit of leaning forward.