CAD Manager's Newsletter #86 (June 5, 2003)

4 Jun, 2003 By: Robert Green

As promised in the last issue of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll continue to answer your most common career questions in this issue. I'd like to thank those who took the time to reply to the last issue, especially those who provided some insight into their own career management strategies.

What Do I Do When My Management Just Doesn't Get It?

In other words, "Why can't my management understand what I do?" or "Why can't I make them understand what I need to do my job?" These are valid questions, typically born of frustration. In order to answer these questions, I must reiterate some of the concepts I illustrated in our last issue.

  • It is up to you to teach your superiors about what you do so that they can understand.
  • It is up to you to demonstrate why your job has value for your company.

If you've already tried both of these approaches and your superiors still aren't responsive, then here are some probable causes (let's view the situation from their angle):

  • Management may be financially squeezed, thus under a tremendous amount of pressure to bring in revenue and reduce expenses. In this sort of business climate, anything that costs money is viewed negatively.
  • Management may be under pressure to reduce the amount of employees. In this business climate everybody is a layoff candidate.
  • Management may have reviewed and concluded, at least unofficially, that CAD (or CAD management) is not saving/making the company enough money to justify an increase in expenditure.

Do these sound familiar? I'm willing to bet those who've hit an impasse have had to deal with at least one of these factors. Now I'll provide some recommendations.

How Do I Deal with My Financially Squeezed Management?

First and foremost you must get past the idea that management has a problem with CAD management in general, or with you in particular. If your company is financially squeezed, you should be helping the company survive the lean times--not worrying why CAD management is on the back burner. Here are some specific actions to take:

  • Prioritize your budget into categories of "must have," "nice to have," and "can do without." Make sure those in the "must have" category are absolutely mission critical.
  • Consider resubmitting your budget and departmental plans with adjusted numbers and target dates.
  • Look for ways to cut waste and streamline processes.
  • Make everyone in your department aware that they're expected to run in an austere mode for a while.

We don't like to give up things we've become accustomed to; it is uncomfortable to deal with the fact that our employer is experiencing tough times. However, as a manager, it is incumbent upon you to prioritize your departmental needs and help the company conserve cash.

Believe me, your management will really appreciate you accepting reality and doing what it takes. Your management doesn't enjoy being in a financial jam any more than you do.

How Do I Manage Workforce Reduction?

In this business climate you need to be concerned with costs. So you must understand that you'll be called upon to help make the decisions on what and who to cut (never a comfortable task, speaking from first hand experience). Yet it is one of the inevitable facts of management. Here are some specific actions to make this easier:

  • Make an honest assessment about what you would do if you were forced to reduce your staff's size.
  • View your department's functions ruthlessly. Every decision you make must lead to greater efficiency.
  • Make some contingency plans for how you'll help out in production crunches.

The obvious concern is whether your job may be in jeopardy, right? If your management sees that you are providing real leadership in getting the company through tough times, your position is likely to be safe, especially if you're rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work.

If your company is downsizing, it will not be fun. But understand that how you react during the tough times is how management judges what you're made of. As someone who's been through the downsizing process, both as a manager and as an employee, I offer you my sympathy.

Summing Up

In the next issue, I'll wrap up the Career Questions topic by focusing on how you can make sure that CAD management gets the respect it deserves. I'll also include some reader feedback. Please feel free to email me at with any questions.