Design Manager or Postman?

Design Manager or Postman?

 21 Aug 2019

    Design Manager

Design Manager or Postman?


If you are a Design Manager or Design Coordinator, like it or not you have probably come across the term postman in the construction industry.

In this article we explore further what it means if a Design Manager is referred to as a postman and how not to be branded with this unfair title, as a Design Manager is an integral and valuable role to a main contractor.


What Is Meant By Postman?

A Design Manager is a full time job and a busy job at that, managing any number of construction packages, subcontractors and design consultants at one time. Gone are the days where a Project Manager could also take on the responsibilities of a Design Manager as an add on to their role.

A Design Manager really could be considered a “Design Project Manager” given the role they play in liaising and managing so many aspects of a project.

For a Design Manager to be referred to as a postman, is underwhelming and disheartening to say the least, as to call a Design Manager this is meaning that they simply pass information from one place to another without adding any further value, for example passing a design / drawing from an external design consultancy onto a subcontractor, or from the design consultancy to the site team.

The significance of this term is highlighted regularly when we are taking new job orders / job specifications from main contractor clients, where a client will be insistent on requesting, they want a “Proper Design Manager” and not a “Postman”.

As a specialist recruiter of Design Managers we hear it often!

Although you won’t see that on any job spec and seeing as collating and passing information is a core part of a Design Manager role, then what does an employer want?


So How Do You Avoid Being Labelled a Postman?  

In short what an employer means by this is they want a Design Manager that is going to add value and be proactive in driving the design process forward. A postman Design Manager would do little more than minimum required, mainly collating and distributing information.


Be the Design Manager Every Employer Wants!

Below I have highlighted some tips to stand out as a Design Manager / Design Coordinator that adds value and that all employers want!


-Value Engineer

Interrogate drawings to see if a saving can be made by changing the design, look for ways to save time as well as money. Its not about being cheap, its about creating value through innovation and quite often through simplifying processes or designs.


-Drive Design

This is crucial and the main area a “Postman” falls short. Employers want Design Managers that can Drive the design process.

You do this by being proactive in keeping the design process moving, chasing up external design consultancies to ensure they meet deadlines as well as ensuring designs are released to site / subcontractors on time and are understood.

Using and keeping on top of your IRS (Information Release Schedule) is a good tool to help with this.

Its all to easy for a Design Manager to be blamed for a delay on a project due to a delay in releasing design information, so its important to keep on top of this.


-Health & Safety

When reviewing Designs ensure Health & Safety has been taken into consideration, Health & Safety is the most essential aspect of a construction project for a safe environment for the end user. Health & Safety cannot be missed out, so this can be costly to change the design or undo construction at a later stage if it’s been over looked.


-Visit Site:

Visit site regularly, this will help ensure designs live up to on site conditions and spot issues early.


-Take Ownership of Your Training

Continuously look to expand your knowledge on construction packages and processes. Look to attend Conferences, Workshops and Exhibitions, consider undertaking a further academic qualification and take advantage of any internal training / courses offered.  



Whilst a lot of larger contractors have their own dedicated BIM Managers, a Design Manager will still be required to liaise with this person / department. So look for opportunities to build up your knowledge in Building Information Modelling and in general other hot topics of the time.



Another way of providing value to the client is to keep Sustainability in mind on a project and look for ways to incorporate this where possible.

To do this not only do you need to encourage your external design consultancies to be innovative, but also its important you look to expand your own knowledge and invest your time also in attending workshops, conferences and exhibitions to keep a track of the latest sustainability developments in construction.


-Double Check

-When receiving drawings / design from external consultancies and architects, don’t just assume they have it right or have included everything. Double check and ask questions if in doubt.


To Conclude

In conclusion to be the Design Manager every employer wants, basically is about being proactive and pushing yourself and those you interact with to achieve the best results, contributing to a happy client and a profitable main contractor.

Its important to note though that there has to be a balance, so that you can get the best out of people without being unrealistic and becoming someone suppliers and colleagues don’t like to work with.

The interesting thing about this is that main contractors are not asking for someone to reinvent the wheel and, the desired trait of being proactive in your job is actually the same desired trait in most work environments.

So, is this an isolated issue faced by those looking to just recruit design managers or staff in general?

As surely these core traits of being “Proactive and motivated” are also required by Project Managers, Quantity Surveyors, M&E Coordinators and so on.


We would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic and any further tips you can contribute that will help aspiring Design Managers learn, progress and get noticed as top talent!

So please feel free to share your comments.


Want to learn more about us at Talk Recruitment Ltd? 

Talk Recruitment Ltd is a specialist recruiter of Design Managers and Design Coordinators UK-Wide and would be delighted to assist you with your job search by introducing you to our client portfolio.

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

Alternatively feel free to register your CV with us for upcoming Design Manager jobs.

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