What is Management?

Management isn’t a promotion from Senior Designer to Lead. It’s a completely different job with a unique set of goals. For those considering moving into Design leadership, here are the following things you must know:

  • Management is not a public acknowledgement of technical expertise.
    A very strong subject knowledge of what your reports are doing will definitely aid in all circumstances but there are great managers out there who are not necessarily as good at what their reports are doing. If your heart is not into getting better at management, don’t accept the position.[1]
  • Management is not about ‘bossing’ anyone around.
    While tasks are delegated, the tasks that should be delegated are the ones in which the report can learn from and tack onto their growth path.
  • Management is not about making decisions for people.
    There are some decisions you may make on your own but the likelihood is that isn’t always the only path. Involving people in decision making and their own improvement is engaging and produces better results.

The veil is lifted,

  • Management is about unblocking.
    What’s stopping your reports from knocking it out of the park? What are the minor and major stresses of their lives? What would they complain about to their friends over beer? How can you pre-emptively solve problems before they can even see or notice them?
  • Management is about putting your reports’ growth before your own discipline growth.
    Yes, I said it: your day-to-day is figuring out how someone will be better than you at your discipline eventually. This means arranging proactive opportunities for education, giving appropriate and timely feedback and making sure they are engaged in their workplace.
  • Management is about everyone except you.
    You have to be willing to fade into the background and let your reports take center stage in most of the To-Do’s on a day-to-day basis. You grow your reports as individuals but also as a team with you playing a supporting role. You’re the coach, not the player.

Ask yourself these questions before accepting the position: what motivates you? how will you feel when your discipline skills get rusty? do you feel underacknowledged in your current position? There are better ways to contribute to your team if management isn’t for you. Know yourself first.

↩︎ [1] Why? Read up on the Peter Principle↗︎

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