CAD Manager's Newsletter (#432)10 Sep, 2019 By: Robert Green
Lack of Authority Still Vexes CAD Managers
Feedback shows that senior management continues to need help in understanding the value of CAD standards.
I periodically post a series of questions on my various social media outlets asking what CAD managers find most difficult about their jobs, then wait a while to see if a consensus forms. This time around, the number one problem that CAD managers cite is — once again — lack of authority to do their job.
What hasn't changed is that senior management doesn't know what we do, so it is up to us to explain ourselves. Yet, there were a few interesting new wrinkles in the comments I received this year, which I'll address. My goal for this newsletter is to give you strategies you can use to gain authority over time. Here goes.
Why Don't They Get It?
I'm constantly asked questions like, "Why doesn't senior management understand what I do?" or "Why don't they just let me enforce the standards?" Here's the answer:
Because you're doing such a good job that they don't have to!
Senior management is in the business of dealing with problems. And from their perspective, if the CAD work is going out the door, there must not be a problem! So the harder you work to overcome the problems you have, the more management thinks that everything's fine.
This is a hard pill to swallow for a CAD manager who's working 50 or 60 hours a week, but I promise you it is true. Now if the CAD work stopped going out the door, management would start paying a huge amount of attention to the problem. But as a CAD manager, I can't afford to miss deadlines, so we're now faced with this conundrum: How can you make the boss understand your problems without messing up a project?
Standards Are the Answer
One of the most common complaints I receive about a lack of understanding on the part of senior management revolves around the standards process — and the lack of enforcement authority. I hear these comments all the time:
|•||"Management lets our engineers violate the standards all the time — why do I even bother?"|
|•||"Doesn't management understand that standards make projects work better?"|
Let's now ask a couple of related questions:
Q. Do the two questions above reflect standards problems or senior management problems?
A. Senior management problems, without a doubt!
Q. Who is going to educate senior management on the value of enforcing standards?
A. The CAD manager and nobody else! In fact, users may even argue against standards!
You already have the standards, it is just that senior management doesn't understand the value of them, right? So it's your responsibility to make your bosses see that standards are in their best (financial) interest, and that they really should help you enforce them, which brings us neatly to our next topic.
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