Engineering departments are a thing of beauty, when they're working right.
When they're not, they can be a thing of chaos.
As with all relationships, the difference between a great engineering department and one stuck in chaos can usually be traced to one simple thing: communication.
Communication is key to the success of your business, when a CAD designer makes a change they need to talk to others to tell them what that change was. When a manager writes up a new ECN, they need to be able to show exactly what they want done.
Here are 3 suggestions to make your engineering team communicate better:
1) Praise the good guys. When an engineer does a especially good job communicating something, be sure to highlight it within the team. Copy the entire engineering department on an email thanking the good-communicator, casually mention during social hour what a great job he's doing communicating his ideas. The idea is to publicly praise the people who communicate well, this will make the other not-so-good communicators in your team take note, and mentally think "I should do that to get praised too"
2) Be visible. Write down what needs to be communicated in a high-traffic place, a whiteboard in your meeting room, pin up a piece of paper in the lunch room, or even write a sticky-note with the words "Be clear. Communicate." and place it on your door. Anything to keep it in the front of your team's mind that yours is a culture and department that really likes people who communicate.
3) Embrace technology. New advances can make it easier than ever to let your team communicate, and you with them. Apps like InfinityDRAW (www.infinitydraw.com) allow engineering managers to use 100% digital ink to red-line or mark-up drawings right on their computer. Then when whichever engineer opens up the drawing the can see the red digital ink right on the page. Technology like InfinityDRAW makes communication within your engineering team a piece of cake.
Above all else, be transparent, let your team know what you expect, and give them the right tools to communicate better than ever, and you'll see the fruit of your work take shape in a better, more unified, engineering department.