Leading a Design Management Team – Top Tips

Leading a Design Management Team – Top Tips

 26 Mar 2019

    Design Manager

Being a Head of Design Management and running your own team of Design Managers is quite a separate task to that of a Design Manager running a project.

We have provided below some top tips for those aspiring to take the step up to this role or even experienced team leaders looking to strengthen their skills.

These insights were based on feedback from design manager hiring managers at leading main contractors.


Top tips:

  • Be Approachable - Your team need to be able to talk to you and share concerns and ideas.


  • Be Responsive - You must demonstrate you are responsive to issues and concerns. Doing what you say you will is a key way to lead by example.


  • Be Aware – You must be able to spot the people pleasers. When you run a team most people will be nice to you, some will tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to know, the ability to spot who is consistent in their approach and delivery is important and then to be mindful that people react differently when under pressure. You must look out for any breaks in consistency as a sign for support / help as often staff can feel awkward asking for help.  


  • Be Confident - You need confidence in your own ability and to be able to hold your own with other departments. Especially if you feel your team are being pulled from pillar to post by other departments.


  • Be Positive - Don’t judge staff by what they do wrong, instead look to encourage them by what they do well.


  • Be Thick Skinned - All too often its easy for a Design Manager to be blamed for a delay on the project, a slow in information etc, you need to be able to support your team and defend your position by having all your ducks in a row.


  • Be Structured - It’s essential to provide a team structure for your team to have clear objectives and a career path to follow and keep them motivated with plenty of promotion opportunities. Whilst doing this consider your progression planning, have you got staff coming through the ranks for the future or is there a gap in your structure that could cause problems in years to come?


  • Be Proactive – Don’t be afraid to roll your sleeves up and be a trouble shooter when required, but always use it as an opportunity for your staff to learn, don’t take over completely.


  • Be Organised – Whilst it might sound like it will put you out of a job a good leader will have procedures and resources in place that the team can access and refer to in your absence. This will save time answering more simple questions and encourage staff to be more independent allowing you to focus on the bigger tasks at hand.


Furthermore, it is apparent that harnessing your people management skills is more paramount than managing design when you get to this level.


Feel free to get in touch with us at Talk Recruitment Ltd for further advice on motivating your team, creating a good work environment, putting a team structure in place or to discuss your team progression planning. We can expand on this further based on how we are seeing other successful main contractors operate.


Want to learn more about us at Talk Recruitment Ltd? 

Talk Recruitment Ltd are a specialist recruiter of Design Managers UK-Wide and we would be delighted to assist you with your recruitment introducing you to our established design manager candidate base.

For more career advice or to apply for Design Manager vacancies contact Talk Recruitment Ltd on 0121 748 1433 to discuss further.

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