Unlock team potential as a design manager

Managers, particularly in the field of design, bear a significant responsibility in fostering the growth and success of their team members. Regrettably, not all managers fully grasp the impact they can have in this regard.

It is of utmost importance to focus on enabling each designer under my supervision to reach their full potential. When they flourish, they not only find personal fulfillment but also contribute to the overall success of the team, which in turn, reflects positively on me. In essence, their success is my success.

Here are seven tips for managing designers:

Being able to shape someone’s career is a deeply rewarding experience. Witnessing their progression into new roles, knowing that I played a part in their journey, fills me with a sense of pride. I have always been dedicated to nurturing the designers I collaborate with and have gleaned valuable insights along the way.

Allow designers to take on tasks above their current skill level. This helps them grow and can make a strong case for promotions. It also empowers the team to be more flexible and self-sufficient.

Engage with your team to help them improve their design skills and product knowledge. I do this through design reviews, casual meetings at their desks, and pairing designers with mentors. It’s important to let team members learn from each other, even if it means you sometimes step back.

This plan should align with their career goals and the opportunities available within your organization. Sometimes, a designer may outgrow your team, and that’s good because it shows they are evolving.

Regular one-on-one meetings provide a consistent environment to discuss professional growth and offer guidance through challenging situations. Design work involves collaboration, which can be tricky to master, and these meetings help with that.

Find ways for your designers to contribute beyond what’s expected. This might involve solving broader team or company-wide challenges, which can make their work more meaningful.

Foster an environment where team members help each other and feel psychologically safe. This involves setting clear behavior standards and ensuring that all interactions with product managers, developers, or other designers are respectful and collaborative.

You should praise your designers within your team and acknowledge their success with stakeholders and upper management. This public recognition not only boosts morale but also helps retain talent.