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Challenges of Managing Technical Professionals

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 not managed well. In the 1960s, RCA created the Spectra 70 computer series in an attempt to challenge IBM’s hold on the computer market.

The series failed for one main reason — managers didn’t align the work of engineers, who created and designed the computers, with the company’s vision and standards.

The result was a technically superior product, but one that couldn’t compete. It was too expensive and, contrary to management’s initial objectives for it, couldn’t run popular IBM software without costly modifications.

Along with the challenge of making sure the technical professionals who work for you know the goals of the organization, you may encounter four other types of challenges:

  • disparagement of the management function,
  • a lack of communication and teamwork, making it difficult to synchronize team members’ efforts,
  • the development of conflicts with organizational goals, and
  • perfectionism and disagreement with company standards.

Disparagement of management — As experts in their fields, most technical professionals are used to working independently, with little direct supervision. This can result in technical professionals considering the involvement of management in their work as unnecessary or irrelevant.