On managing.

Over the years I've taken on various management roles at Flywheel and WP Engine. I've since returned to my original responsibility to grow design as a discipline at the company, but I enjoyed my time working with our teammates on their individual growth as well. I am a "people person," and get a lot of energy from those around me, so this is a gratifying part of a role for me. I've learned a lot about building teams, trust, and honestly about myself in the process. It's made me immensely proud to help grow designers and advocate for them at the corporate level.

Here are some of the things I value on my teams. I also created a manager README (if you're unfamiliar — think "how to use this software" readme, but for a person 😂). I share this document with my teammates, and encourage them to do the same and create a version for themselves.

My core beliefs

  • Relationships – Teams are built on relationships. I work hard to build strong, trusting relationships with my team, so that we can all do our best work.

  • Collaboration – Great products are not built in isolation. I believe deeply in collaborative work and push my team to work with each other and with those outside of our departments to make sure our products are the strongest they can be.

  • Ownership / Leadership – To be successful, designers must take ownership of problems, and lead their teams towards solutions. Sometimes this requires effort to rally people around an idea. It’s important that we cultivate our individual ability to lead towards the best results for our customers and I focus on helping my teams with this as much as I possibly can!
  • Transparency – Open environments produce better work. Not only does it give more room for people to feel involved in the decisions made, but they feel more free to be themselves when they know I've got their back.

  • Focus + clarity – Great problems are focused problems, and focused problems lead to solutions that actually achieve goals. Every day I work to clarify and be able to articulate why we’re making the design choices we’re making. I expect the team to do the same. This ensures we’re getting feedback on (at least) our best possible guesses.

  • Inclusion – Working as designers, large parts of our days are spent critiquing work. A safe environment full of trust is key to every person feeling important and valued. We need to be extremely cognizant of how our words and actions affect this.

Feedback

I love feedback, and believe in feedback as a key piece of building a team that trusts each other. I treat feedback as an ongoing thing, and not just as part of a formal review. It happens every day, in one-on-ones, and I love recieving it myself. I want my teams to to feel safe, happy, and fulfilled — building healthy feedback into team culture is a great way to do that. I believe feedback is most powerful when positive in nature, but work hard to give clear, specific, actionable feedback regardless of type.

One-on-ones

I do half hour one-on-ones with each team member once a week. I treat this meeting as their meeting, asking them to come prepared with things to talk about. It doesn't have to be work-related...in fact one-on-ones are often a place I really get to know my teammates. If they don't have an agenda, I use the 10/10/10 method popularized by "Manager Tools" — 10m on “what’s going on with you?,” 10m on feedback, and 10m on talking about the future/coaching/growth opportunities

Once a month, I do a specific goals-related chat, where we check in on how they are doing with any career or skills goals they have set, and once quarterly do an extended sync to set and clarify goals moving forward. This also provides a great checkpoint for the review cycle, making formal reviews much easier and more effective.