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Managing from Two Steps Back

CAD Managers have to work from a distance.  They are not the ones creating and editing files and models.  Others do that and the CAD Manager is removed from the direct process.  They can be “one step back” as outlined in another post, or even two steps back…

Being two steps back means that the CAD Manager is providing information and perspective that drives others to action.  When they are one step back, they are providing plans, processes and procedures to others to put into practice.  When they are two steps back, they are providing input that stirs others to create those plans, processes and procedures.  By getting others to do the planning, the CAD Manager increases their reach and influence but without the lose of control that needs to be in place.  They become the adviser and provide approval.

Here are some suggestions to help this approach:

Get them to think

Provide information and stimulate conversation in which you do not provide the answers.  This can be tough if you have a general idea of what should be done.  But holding back on answering all the questions causes others to come to conclusions on their own.  When this is properly done, your questions should end with “what do you think we should do?”

Provide them with a template

Not a CAD template file, but a template of what you are looking to do.  If it is a procedure, give them examples of others that show your desired outcome.  Templates are just examples and may not be written documents.  It might be examples of teaching others.  Have them watch what you do so they get the idea.  Demonstrate the outcome you want.

Give them a target

Frame the results of their actions either with targets to hit or boundaries to stay within.  A target may be… “We have to get this done by October 12”.  A boundary may be… “We can’t make this to hard for the average user to understand” or “Management does not want to spend more than 40 hours on this effort”.

Move them to Action

Be it complaint, concern or frustration, something gets fixed or corrected when someone takes action.  Your process from a distance is to get them to move to action not by direct command but by calling them to perform.  At the end of the conversation it should always be “What can you do to help?”

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