Being a team manager implies that a person is capable of channeling the individual skills of each team member and incorporating them in achieving the project's goal. Being a successful team manager means getting the best of every individual and the team as a whole, whatever the task. Naturally, each team has its own specifics and requires an individual approach. Here is what demands particular attention when it comes to successfully managing a team of designers.
Convey a message
In a nutshell, a team manager is a link between a client paying for a product or a service and a group of people whose job is to provide it. One of the critical features of proficient team managers is their skill of conveying messages precisely and timely. And, this goes in both directions. The demands, expectations, and guidelines a client provides need to be adequately communicated to the team, just as the team's feedback and clarifications requirements need to be forwarded to the client.
Brush up the skills required
Depending on the type of design in question, worthy team leaders need to improve their corresponding skills. For example, when it comes to graphic design, computer skill proficiency, and general creative openness are necessary features. On the other hand, if the team you are supposed to lead to success are industrial designers, you will need to polish your analytical and problem-solving skills to guide them through the design process and come out with an original and operational product.
Expand your background
It has been proven that key drivers in design management are those who successfully build up their original fields of expertise, such as marketing, business, or engineering management, among others. For this reason, progressive curriculums, as this master's degree in design management, for example, teach students that they first need to overcome disciplinary boundaries. Upon that, innovation and experimentation, understanding the business reality, and the capability of bringing together the imagination of design and the skill of bringing added value will come as natural upgrades. Also, learning a new language can always facilitate communication in a multilingual surrounding.
Pick your tasks and teams
A term design covers a vast area of professions. It is simply impossible that one person could lead teams of various design proficiencies equally successfully. This is true because the skills and background needed to understand what is asked of the team and what they are performing in return are so broad that one person cannot obtain them in a lifetime. For example, a person who has an engineering background will always have a higher chance of successfully managing an industrial design team than a person whose background is in fashion design. Picking a team that works on a task that incorporates and reflects your area of expertise improves the odds of your successful management.
A coach, a diplomat and a leader - all at once and at all times
As a coach, you will have to make sure that the team is bigger than the sum of its parts. Motivating members in doing their best, providing guidance, and criticizing the members when they do not perform at the expected level are essential features of a successful coach who will make the best of the players he has at hand and guide them to success.
As a team representative, you will undoubtedly find yourself in challenging situations where you will have to balance between the demands of the client and the team's current performance and capabilities. This means educating non-designers on the nature of design and simultaneously explaining the client's strict requirements and expectations to individual members of the team. This requires positive diplomacy to overcome potential conflicting situations and calmly bring the project to an end.
Every team has a leader - be it sports, business, armed forces, or religion, to name just a few. The leader of a winning team is there for them both in positive and negative situations and knows when to push them over their limits and say no to somewhat impossible demands clients often have. The team needs to know their leader has their back at all times, and the clients need to be assured that they will get the desired results.
Managing a group of people and achieving the goal of them working as a team that brings results is not an easy task. Excelling at doing so with a team of creative individuals such as designers in general are is reserved only to those who can adapt to the specific tasks of the project and continually work on their personal skills.
About Jennifer Hahn Masterson
Jennifer Hahn Masterson is the Lead Content Strategist at Spread the Word Solutions, holding an MA degree in business communication. She is always doing her best to help her clients find their place in the ever so competitive business arena, insisting on long-term sustainability rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast scheme. You can check her out on LinkedIn.