April 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 11 
Cover Story

Meet the manager

As part of this examination of the manager's evolving role, Boeing Frontiers looks at what three managers have learned and how they're trying to help the company and their teammates move forward.

Meet the managerPeople 'can do amazing things'

Kevin Roundhill, a Boeing employee since 1992, became a first-line manager in September 2004. Before that, he was a design engineer in Boeing Commercial Airplanes' payloads concept center for three years. Now, as a 777 crew rest and furnishings manager in Everett, Wash., he's found his work shifting from performing nitty-gritty project details to thoughtfully developing and motivating his employees so they succeed.

Q: What do you feel is an important part of your job as first-line manager?

A: Developing people. It's important to understand what people want to do, where they want to go and what type of skills they want to gain. As a manager, I can help them access opportunities to develop and grow and show what they can do. Boeing has really, really smart and highly skilled people. If you let them go for it, they can do amazing things.

Q: What is the key to managing and developing people?

A: Each person has different fears and motivators. Understanding that, I think about how I manage each person, so I can empower them and keep them motivated to do the best they can. I want to keep an open line of communication. I want them to tell me what they want in a career, so we can work together toward that goal.

Q: Information sharing will drive the future. How do you approach this?

A: Honesty is important and trusting your employees. Sharing information will help grow your network of people, and always keep an open line of communication. If you trust them, they will trust you. Dealing with people openly and honestly will build trust, which can lead to more relationships and higher standards of work. You have to let them do their jobs. As the manager, I'm there to help them with issues.

Q: How do technology and this wired world change things for managers?

A: Technology has not changed the fact that the business environment is really about relationships—relationships with your peers, employees and customers. Technology may make things move faster, but business is still really built on developing and building relationships. To get things done, you still need people. When you have built a good, trusting relationship, you can generate more ideas and collaborate more quickly.

—Katherine Sopranos


Get the word across

Meet the managerElizabeth Lund first became a manager at Boeing in 1996. Now, as director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Interior Responsibility Center in Everett, Wash., she offers her insight from years of experience.

Q: What are the skills you feel are most valuable as a manager?

A: Communication and setting and sharing a vision.

Q: Why are these skills important?

A: A manager needs to communicate effectively in both verbal and written forms. It's really important to help your team understand where they fit in the larger scheme—why what they are doing is important, why they are needed and why they make a difference. I think if managers can do that effectively, they can inspire their team to accomplish great things.

Q: How does developing people play into managing?

A: Developing a highly skilled workforce is one of the most important jobs a manager can do. Managers need to consider this every time a team is formed or an employee is given an opportunity. It also creates a more motivated team when a manager understands his or her team members' interests and desires for future jobs and works toward getting their employees those experiences.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face as a manager?

A: Maintaining focus and aligning the organization in rapidly changing times. There are so many forces pulling on us right now—market forces driving increased productivity, large cost challenges, airline demands, changing technology. It's really easy for the workforce to get distracted or overwhelmed.

Q: Why do managers have to embrace change?

BLC helps first-line managers develop teammates' leadership skills

The Boeing Leadership Center conducts courses to help managers—first-line through top executives—gain the tools and information they need to be more effective leaders.

For the last five years, the BLC focused its curriculum on teaching interpersonal leadership skills, as reflected by business and evolving industry needs. Now, the focus is on training first-line managers how to develop leadership skills in their direct reports.

"In response to what managers need to better prepare in their new role, the focus is on teaching managers how to develop people," said Beth Kluba of Boeing Leadership, Training and Development.

From its own research, BLC found that first-line leaders identified the need for more development training to be more successful in their role.

"The energy and emphasis of our curriculum is trying to move managers from an administrative process to the daily development of people," Kluba said.

The BLC has identified several competencies that first-line leaders should engage in to motivate and manage their employees:

  • Be action-oriented
  • Be approachable
  • Care about direct reports
  • Be composed
  • Manage conflict
  • Effectively confront direct reports
  • Delegate
  • Develop direct reports
  • Maintain fairness to direct reports
  • Manage and measure work
  • Plan
  • Solve problems

"Managers need to drive employee engagement and motivation in order to retain good employees," Kluba said.

—Katherine Sopranos

A: Change is inevitable in the global, competitive market we participate in today. Our customers also expect us to change to allow them to be more competitive. We need to bring new technologies to market quicker, and we need to provide our products at a much lower cost. Our competition is doing both of these, and to continue to be a market leader, we must do the same.

Q: How can you set an example as a manager?

A: I think it's important to set an example by truly believing in anything you ask your employees to do. I don't think you successfully lead a team when you ask them to do something because someone else told you to do it. A manager must believe in the plan and help the team understand why it's important, and why you believe it's the right thing to do. Once they understand the reason and the plan, trust your team to get it done.

—Katherine Sopranos


Vital to 'keep each other in the loop'

Meet the manager

Catherine Jones became a first-line manager in the Boeing Office of Internal Governance one year ago for Global Trade Controls Export Compliance. Team building and communication are competencies she addresses as key to managing well.

Q: What managerial skills are valuable?

A: Team building and communication are essential skills for developing an effective team. And being flexible to emerging opportunities and demanding customers is part of everyday office life now.

Q: Why are these skills important?

A: More often, our coworkers and internal customers are geographically dispersed. It's vital for a team to work together and keep each other in the loop.

Q: How do you approach developing people?

A: It's important to understand your employees' goals and career objectives, so you can assist them by offering specific training courses and opportunities, mentoring, or on-the-job training. Developing your people can enhance your organizational goals as well.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face as a manager?

A: Balancing competitive, time-sensitive commitments and deadlines is always challenging.

Q: What advice would you give other managers?

A: Let your staff or team know you appreciate them and the job they are doing. Export Compliance is a challenging field, where awareness of and compliance with export laws and regulations is critical. By doing their jobs well, my staff is not only successful, it is keeping the company safe.

—Katherine Sopranos

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