Monday, July 07, 2008

How to Succeed As a First-Time UX Manager

Tips for the new UX manager ...

"In my last column, I suggested that being a manager of UX is no better—and no worse—than being a great designer or user researcher, but the roles are very different. In fact, as the book The First 90 Days [1] points out, the skills that make you successful as an individual contributor are not the same skills you need as a leader.

Still, I was glad to see that a couple of people who talked with me after reading my column are being offered the opportunity to move into management roles and have decided to take the plunge. They asked me how they could make this transition a positive experience for them, their teams, and their companies. They were asking the right questions. This column discusses what attributes can help someone become a successful first-time UX manager—though these attributes are foundational elements for all managers.

Before we dive in, please realize that this column cries out for the need to describe the differences between management and leadership. But to keep this article from becoming a treatise, I hope you’ll bear with me as I focus narrowly on how to survive and thrive as a first-time manager. I’ll take up leadership in my next column.

Holy Cow, Now What?

Becoming a manager can feel like the best choice you’ve ever made—like you’ve finally found your home and are doing what you were always meant to do. That’s how I feel about leading UX teams now. I thrive on it. The fact is, though, I certainly did not feel that way early on in my management career. I felt well out of my depth. While I survived the experience, my team put me on notice! Most new managers thought becoming a manager would feel exhilarating and refreshing—even as they began to feel lost in a hostile third-world country without a way out. Among the first-time managers with whom I’ve spoken, only those who managed just one or two people felt their first management role was what they expected."    (Continued via UXmatters, Jim Nieters)    [Usability Resources]

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