Engineer to Leader Series: Does It Make Financial Sense?

In the last week I’ve had a number of people ask “who do you want to meet“, and, in all honesty, I was very flattered to have others helping me in connecting with others I believe I can help in achieving their dreams. Of course that got me to think, out of a plethora of people reading my blog and know me, who is my target audience?

Engineers, who else! But not engineers who want to just be an engineer any more – those that strive to lead a group of engineers, or build the next Microsoft.

Hence, I introduce the “Engineer to Leader” series, which will soon be followed with a few offerings to coach and guide an engineer’s first time being a manager or entrepreneur. Think of it as having an outside confidant you can go to when you don’t know what to do, yet don’t want those that work with you not know what you don’t know.

So what do I mean by “does it make financial sense?” I’ve noticed with new managers who think they have the next best idea since sliced bread and jump into building the idea, or believe they should send the whole team to cutting edge training in Europe – did they think through their budget, priorities and business case before jumping in?

As a manager, here are the top 5 financial things you need to do or get access to to help you make better decisions for the people you lead in spending that next dollar or investing that next minute:

1. What’s your spend budget for the year (outside of salary/benies for your team) and do you have to ask/justify using it to your boss before spending?

2. Are you a cost or profit center?

3. What are your financial goals for the year? (both your division’s all the way up to corporate)

4. Is your budget restricted in any way – i.e. up to x% or $y can be used for overhead travel?

5. For opportunities to build a new product or gain a new skill, what is the business case for this investment (i.e. I spend X today but will generate Y revenue in 1,3,5 years?)

We’ll talk more about determining what to “invest” in (because it is more than just spending money) in a future post.

So, are you on target to stay on budget for 2008?

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