As designers, we’ve been well trained on all the ins and outs of the design process. We can take a hazy blurry idea, stick it on the procedural conveyor belt and over a period of time create something tangible. So, I propose that we can safely say that project management lite falls within our repertoire of skill sets.
This is a good thing until we become responsible for managing groups of people – either as a team lead or department manager because most of the time we’ll default to managing process on a project by project basis rather than managing the people engaged in those projects.
It’s relatively easy for us to define a project’s scope, design workflows and determine timelines and milestones. We have complete control of these responsibilities and it doesn’t get all emotionally and politically messy to fulfill this role. Naturally, we’ll step up for these tasks in a heartbeat.
The problem is that if we don’t acknowledge the importance of enrolling, cajoling and inspiring our teams, our projects will, at best, not be executed well or worse, not be executed on at all. Unfortunately, even after embracing the idea of people management, we’re still left trying to figure out how to do it. Fortunately, though, there are proven strategies and tactics to lead others towards a common goal.
So, for now, have the courage if you haven’t already, to admit that your interpersonal skills contribute to your success as a designer and look for ways to improve them. Over the next week or two I’ll be expanding on this issue.