This Old In-house: Managers – Know Your Rights

In-house department managers often are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Non-design upper managers often assign them responsibilities without the needed authority to carry out those responsibilities. Reports possess expertise and skill sets that the managers don’t, making the managers feel inadequate to coach, mentor and manage those reports.

This segment will discuss a simple but effective approach on how managers can empower themselves to powerfully interact with the expert creatives whom they manage.


As adapted from a post on The 10 Minute Manager site:

  • Explain and agree to standards of performance for the job with your report
  • Expect your designers to consistently meet the agreed upon standards
  • Monitor performance against the established standards
  • Give focused specific feedback on performance – both the positive and less positive aspects
  • Identify areas of under performance and create a plan with your report to address those areas
  • Expect your designers to take on the designated actions to improve the identified areas of under performance

If your company has a formal performance review process fold the above suggestions into it. If there is no formal process, put one into place. The one-on-one reviews should ideally be held on a quarterly basis and certainly no less than twice a year. You should always take notes and follow up these conversations with an email detailing all important points discussed during the conversation.

Not only does this exercise help guide and self direct your reports – if handled correctly, it lets them know you care about them and their professional development.

One thought on “This Old In-house: Managers – Know Your Rights

  1. Tyler

    “The one-on-one reviews should ideally be held on a quarterly basis and certainly no less than twice a year.”

    Good luck with that one. Everywhere I’ve worked you’re lucky if you get one review in a calendar year. At my current place of employment, I’m coming up on my three year anniversary and I’ve only been reviewed once and that was for the end of my probationary period.

    But I completely agree with quarterly reviews, even though they’re a pain in the ass for everyone involved. The thing I hate about yearly reviews is that reports only know they’re deficient in an area when it comes up in a review. So how can you improve when you don’t even know what you’re supposed to be improving until it’s too late? That just pisses people off. Then there’s no reminder of what they’re supposed to be improving because there’s no follow up review or a year later their manager dings them for something else and the same cycle repeats.