Most design managers fail for reasons that may seem unexpected at first. Oleksandr Vilinskyi, an application designer, shared useful tips from his own experience that will help to eliminate these failures.

Your work cannot be measured

We have all seen managers who strive to be productive — they create a lot of documents, attend endless calls, constantly correspond with employees. A quantitative indicator gives them a sense of comfort and confidence, because managerial work is very difficult to measure. Because of this, many managers feel anxious, tired and dissatisfied.

In such cases, they think about looking for a new job, because they feel a lack of control and result. If the manager cannot take care of the framework of determining his own successes, it will be very difficult to evaluate himself in the market. This is the path to eternal dissatisfaction with work in any place.

Your task is to gain trust

For me, the hallmark of managers is what they focus on during a conversation. A common mistake is to think more about yourself than about the team. And if you thought: “I definitely care about the team!”, then ask yourself, is it really true? Would you put yourself in a bad light to alienate a team member? Will you fight for a raise in their wages? Will you protect employees even if they are wrong?

Modern management is based on trust and risk. You cannot gain trust in a perfectly comfortable environment. The real test begins when “things are bad”, not in the first months of working together.

You are responsible for the result

Too often, managers are immersed in the mode of “facilitation” and not, in fact, management. They are engaged in optimizing processes, building a working environment, and searching for talents. Instead, really successful managers are responsible for the result.

If you set about the work with the available resources, any failure is your fault. Often in corporate culture, you can see people shifting this responsibility and avoiding criticism. But this is the perfect environment to show true storm management prowess.

The manager’s work scales, but at the same time it does not

This opinion will be controversial, but I believe that standardized career elevators are a counterproductive approach. Such a system works for large corporations, but not for small and medium-sized businesses. However, for some reason, design managers start with it anyway, because it gives a sense of control over the team.

In reality, non-scalable work is complex and much more valuable. Talking to people face-to-face and learning about their ambitions is more difficult than making a sign that they can look at themselves. If you really want quality team growth for the sake of results, this is the only way that I consider proven. The plates never worked.

Your work should be different every week

A good manager’s job doesn’t have to be a weekly routine. Each week should be unique, contain new challenges that require fresh ideas. I understand the desire to create a routine, but it should not be an initiative on the part of managers. If a manager works strictly according to the calendar, he/she is probably not creating much added value, or is using ineffective methods.

You have to be a bit of a cheater

To resort to tricks does not always mean doing something bad. Instead, it is the skill of getting a good result out of any situation. Use unique images to impress the audience inside and out. Your reports should be the same as the premium products. You should resort to elements of storytelling and drama, create interactive tasks so that people feel involved.

Designers have always been able to cheat. It is necessary to actively use the understanding of how approaches to other people are formed. The design manager should remember this and use it as an advantage.

Be authentic

Designers easily spot deceptive techniques. Inexperienced managers resort to them all the time: with designers, leads and other team members. For example, they claim that they have calculated the return on investment when this is not true, or they assure that the brand communication will be close to the needs of the user (which is often an embellishment).

Managers tend to reassure, but it is important to raise really important issues in discussions with them:

  • poor research results;
  • which may upset users;
  • and what if the founders are wrong;
  • who will be responsible for the failure?

By avoiding difficult conversations, you don’t make work easier, you make the team more anxious. Professional managers inspire trust and clearly demonstrate that they are valuable leaders.