8 Mistakes I Made As A First-Time UX Manager

Quick Introduction

This post is originally by Miriam Isaac @misaac85, who recently became a UX Manager. This article explains her struggles and learnings in 8 sections, which is extremely helpful to the community. The complete article is written as retold by her in her own voice. You can follow her hashtag #miriamisaac on most social platforms.


  1. Congratulations, on your promotion!
  2. The 8 Things!

Congratulations, on your promotion!

However, you soon realise you have no clue what you are doing! College did not prepare you, neither did that UX course you took online.

Not only that, but who has ever managed a UX team?

The 8 Things!

Here are 8 things I wish I had known as a first-time manager in the uncharted territory of UX.

1. You can’t do everything

If you do, you will fall flat on your face. Don’t think you have unlimited energy or time.

Breathe, delegate and give permission to your employees to make their own mistakes, to learn from.

2. Schedule 1s on 1s, pronto.

Individual quality time with your direct reports, is crucial towards their success.

Schedule this once a week. Take this time to discuss their career aspirations and answer any questions they may have.

3. Don’t make design critique personal

Don’t make it personal! Start off saying what you do like, then say, “I was wondering, what this could look like, if you did x’. Then, look at the differences together and if you are worth your salt, it will be clear to the both of you on how to proceed.

4. Focus on strengths not weaknesses

Accept your employees for who they are. Too often we try to ‘fix’ people, to mould them into someone else. This is a mistake. Focus on the positive, continuously praise and watch everyone become their best selves.

5. People are not machines

People are complex human being, with emotions, dreams and baggage. Don’t think you can’t just tell them, this is policy and that’s it. Explain as much as you can, get as much information as possible.

People don’t like being told what to do, so it always help to give context.

6. Your employees are adults

They know what deadlines are, they don’t need you to consistently ask them what they are doing. Check in via Jira, Asana or weekly meetings. In general, if you give them clear expectations, they will deliver.

7. Jr designers must be in meetings

It is essential for designers to get direct feedback from those approving the project. Don’t just blindly send changes down the pipeline. Answering ‘why’ is crucial. This will be difficult for those without a design thinking mindset.

8. Management ≠ Leadership

A manager keeps his team on deadline, follows company policy and doesn’t challenge the status quo.

A great design leader will push back, protect their designers, give them space to grow, allows them to ask why, and ultimately, catalyses creativity.

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