This is my first column on the management of UX. In my column, I’ll articulate what I’ve learned from my experience as a senior leader and several years in intensive senior leadership development programs.
Have you ever known a manager you felt shouldn’t manage people? Maybe you’ve worked for one. Most of us have at one point or another. On the other hand, most of us have also had great managers. What sets great managers apart from bad ones? That’s one of the questions I’ll explore in this article.
Almost weekly, I talk with a UX designer or researcher who wants to become a manager of a UX team. For some people, this is a good choice. Both they and their teams thrive. But for many, it’s honestly not the right goal, and the end result is that neither they nor their teams are happy. The book Now, Discover Your Strengths  suggests that we tend to be good at the things we love doing, and we love activities at which we excel. I find that we do our best work when we’re in a playground. (I’ll explore this idea more in my next column.) Isn’t life too short to pursue a path we don’t enjoy? Read More
In response to previous Management Matters columns, readers have asked me to explain the differences between a manager and a leader. In this column, I’ll explain these differences and highlight the value of moving from a tactical management role to a strategic leadership role.
In today’s marketplace, products and services must provide great user experiences as a key differentiator, and every company is trying to outperform its competition. The only way to do that is to have highly talented employees who are deeply motivated to make a difference. Companies spend significant amounts of time and money to find and retain such employees. So one of the fundamental roles of a UX manager is to hire the best UX researchers and designers, then grow and retain these employees. Managers must function as multipliers, not detractors. Read More
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  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. Read More