Slides Mx 2008 Margaret Stewart

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A User-Centered Guide to Managing Creative Teams

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Slides Mx 2008 Margaret Stewart

  1. 1. The Manager as Tailor A User-Centered Guide to Managing Creative teams Margaret Gould Stewart User Experience Manager, Google Inc What makes a great manager? Bring out best in teams Produce great work Admired and trusted Always thought that treating people equally was key I’ve learned it’s not that simple Has to be balanced with a very individualized approach to management Insert photos of great managers, leaders, quotes of what great managers do I want to talk to you today about some things I’ve learned over the years about what makes a great manager. Not surprisingly, it turns out it’s not one thing, but many possible things a leader can bring to a team to make them more effective, more productive, happier. Throughout my career, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these issues and living through some interesting case studies of the challenges that go along with team management and leadership. 1
  2. 2. Consider the tailor… • Custom fits suit to needs & specifications of client • Assumes one size doesn’t fit all • Multiple fittings to get it right • Works to accentuate your best features • Works tirelessly to make others look good Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 2
  3. 3. It’s just a dress, right? Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 When I got married, I wanted to get something different. So I went the vintage route; a store in NYC that no longer exists called Opal White. They only sold vintage dresses in their original state. You had to envision how these dresses could be cleaned and altered to be THE dress for you. They had an expert seamstress who would cut it up and remake it for you, to your specifications and based on what she thought would work for you, your body type, and your style. This REALLY stressed my mom out. She couldn’t believe I didn’t want to just get something off the rack. It was SO much safer and predictable. And I even didn’t know exactly what it was going to look like. There was definitely a leap of faith involved. In the end, I had a dress that was dense with history through the other unknown brides who wore it. Even better, it was made expressly for me; it fit me like a glove, and it is the only dress like it in the world. It can’t even be reproduced because of the vintage lace and silk. I think back to that seamstress, and how satisfying it must have been for her to concoct completely unique dresses for each and every client out of these amazing materials for what will be for many the most important day of your life. . What a cool job. Someday I’m going to get a custom made pair of cowboy boots. 3
  4. 4. How does this transfer to a team environment? “I’m with you. I know exactly how you’re working.” - Sam Mendes Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 I find this really inspiring. How is he able to do this? How well must he know each actor in order to do this? How well must the actors know themselves? How can we aspire to this level of custom tailored management and coaching? 4
  5. 5. What we’ll discuss today • What’s universal, what’s unique to specific people/teams/companies? • How to take a custom approach to management • Tools for gaining self-awareness for yourself and your team • Tools for assessing needs of your team • How to distribute leadership across the team Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 How many of you currently or have previously had people reporting to you? Why talk about management theory at MX? Creative people can be a challenge Mutli-disciplinary teams UX often not well understood by organizations 5
  6. 6. Most people want…. • To be recognized • To get feedback regularly • To get coaching • To feel ownership over their work • To feel their manager is available to them • To feel their manager is advocating for them Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 6
  7. 7. It’s a new cocktail every time… + + + Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 You plus the people you work with and for, plus the unique culture and expectations and needs of the company you are a part of, at a specific time in that company’s evolution You can’t just come in and impose a model of management without serious consideration of needs; what worked like gangbusters some place else may very well bomb in your new role And you can’t impose you and your communication and workstyle preferences on others What people need What people want How they work and communicate best What skills and strengths you bring as their manager The specific environment/company you are in, at this time in that company’s evolution 7
  8. 8. Tripod: Peer to Manager • Employee # 12 • Rose in the ranks to manage former peers • No management experience or training • Grew team from 1 to 95 • Team very young and inexperienced • Very early days of the internet; no best practices to emulate Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 Team very young and inexperienced Very early in days of internet; no best practices to emulate 8
  9. 9. Wachovia: Hired Gun • Hired from the outside to run Usability Group • UX not the core business; evangelism was key • Conservative, traditional management style • 100,000 employees • 7 team members; experienced and used to having a manager • Needed to scale UX practice to increasingly critical online channel Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 Needed to scale UX practice to increasingly critical online channel Evangelism a big part of the role 9
  10. 10. Google: It’s about the data, stupid • Engineering-driven, crazy-smart colleagues • Highly decentralized • Healthy skepticism for managers AND for “Design” • Huge teams • Data driven • Bottom up vs Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 On Day 1, I had 27 people reporting to me in three offices; no one blinked an eye Came after a period of enormous growth in UX Hire a bunch of new managers from the outside I came from the outside, too Lots of uncertainty Lots of young people: their first job, first manager; they didn’t know what to expect, what was fair to expect, what they needed, and how to ask for what they needed 10
  11. 11. Where it really began… Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 You can’t grow up as the youngest of nine kids and NOT end up with fairly effective negotiation and interpersonal skills Look how worried I am Maybe I was empathizing with my big sister Susan, who is so visibly miserable about having to be included in this with glasses AND braces 11
  12. 12. A custom, tailored approach • What are your strengths? • What does your team really need, as individuals and as a whole? • What do you wish you could provide to your team? • What are your greatest challenges? • What unique challenges face your organization here and now? Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 12
  13. 13. A User’s Guide to Tailoring self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan shared vocabulary open communication Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 You plus the people you work with and for, plus the unique culture and expectations and needs of the company you are a part of, at a specific time in that company’s evolution You can’t just come in and impose a model of management without serious consideration of needs; what worked like gangbusters some place else may very well bomb in your new role And you can’t impose you and your communication and workstyle preferences on others 13
  14. 14. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Building self-awareness • For yourself as a manager/leader • For the individuals on your team • For your team as a whole • A real benefit to doing it together • Strengths Finder • Also: Workplace Big Five, Myers-Briggs Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 Greatest gift you can give yourself and those you work with Understanding what your strengths are and a vocabulary to talk about conflict 14
  15. 15. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan How we used the data • Voluntarily put data in spreadsheet • Also plotted results across whole team • People paired up based on difference or similarity for mentoring, cross-training • Some developing “User’s Guide to Me” Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 15
  16. 16. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Individuals shared their findings Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 16
  17. 17. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Mapping our strengths Izabel David Margaret Jorge Denise Kei Jed Lisa Seonghee Lucas Lin Ching-Hua Damian Sasha Arnold Lars Susan Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 17
  18. 18. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan “User’s Guide to Me” Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 18
  19. 19. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Understanding needs of the individual • Gathered insights through these various work experiences and assessments • Articulated some of the top needed and wanted characteristics of managers • Not exhaustive; meant as a dialogue tool Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 19
  20. 20. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Tools: The Cards Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 You can assess if you are doing the things that matter most to each member of your team 20
  21. 21. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Tools: The Cards • Which three are your strengths? • Which three do you think your team most wants/needs from you? • Which three do you wish people would use to describe you? • Which are trouble areas for you? • Which three do you want from your manager? • Any traits you’d add to the pack? Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 Are there any that you said your team need from you that you think are trouble areas for yourself? Remember these, and I’ll come back to it in just a few minutes 21
  22. 22. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Tools: The Checklist Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 You can assess if you are doing the things that matter most to each member of your team 22
  23. 23. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan Infinite customization? YIKES! Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 You need to offer different things to each member of your team, based on their unique needs Plus be a different person to each primary stakeholder, and even to your own boss You can’t be all things to all people, and even worse, you can’t always provide everyone’s top needs 23
  24. 24. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan You can’t meet everyone’s needs… Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 It doesn’t always go well. Even after 15 years, I muck it up on a fairly regular basis. These was a usability engineer that I once managed not so long ago; he was really bright but very quiet. I guess you could say he was introverted. Now, one of the things I try to do regularly for my team is to provide them with recognition and rewards when they’ve done a great job on something. This usability engineer has just completed a really tough study, slogged through data with impressive speed, and came out with some really impressive and high impact findings that the project team heard and responded to. Awesome. So I thought, I’ll do something special for him. At the next staff meeting, I decided that I would acknowledge his great work by calling him up in front of the team, which was nearly 80 people, and providing him with thanks and a little gift certificate. I mean, heck, that’s what I’d want MY boss to do for me. I love public praise. Everyone does, right? So I did. He didn’t look super excited, but I thought, well, he’s shy, but deep inside, I know he appreciates that I am giving him the recognition he wants. Later in the day, he pulled me aside, and he thanked me for acknowledging him. He said, ‘I know you meant well, and I do like being recognized. But when you called me up in front of that crowd, I thought I was going to throw up. I mean I literally though I was going to be physically ill. Please don’t even do that again to me.” 24
  25. 25. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan You can’t meet everyone’s needs… Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 There are some silver linings in this story, though. First of all, he told me about the impact that I had on him. I am SO grateful to him for that. While I felt, and still feel awful about what happened, it was an incredible learning experience for him. I thanked him at the time, and try to do so any time someone gives me feedback like this. It takes a lot of guts to tell you boss that he or she is not doing something the way they should. And as the boss, it’s hard not to get defensive. I’d like to think that he came to be about it because I had consistently sent the following messages: •I’m not good at everything; no one is •I want to understand what works best for you and then whenever possible I want to do those things •I want to hear from you when things work and when they don’t Something I’ve been dealing with more recently at Google has to do with what what the Strength Finder assessment calls my “Positivity”. <insert descritption> Now, I’ve always been a fairly peppy person. My dad kept all of my report cards from when I was a kid, and almost without exception, they all say something like this: 25
  26. 26. self-awareness needs analysis leadership plan The “Super Friends” model of leadership Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 We’re all good at different things, and no one of us is good at everything We try to rely on each other to help in areas where we aren’t as strong I brought Bob in to a discussion with Bill about how much coding designers should have to do I brought Walter into a meeting where we were discussing various approaches to prioritization What you “lack” can be found in other people - on your team or your peers - leadership opportunities that add value to the team; filling a need you can’t When you admit you can’t do it all, you allow others to as well A huge sense of relief to people to stop the charade that they are good at everything Doesn’t mean you don’t have to work to address areas for development, especially if they are critical to the job If you need to find out the truth, you’re gonna go to Wonder woman, not Aqua man, am I right? I once had a women take a leadership role on my team. She’s was so talented, but she had a hard time dealing with confrontation. It caused challenges in building her credibility with stakeholders she deals with and her ability to advocate for the team. Sometimes, you need to get scrappy to get things done. We talked about different ways in which she 26
  27. 27. Why doesn’t everyone do it? • It’s hard work; easier to take a one size fits all approach • Teams often lack shared vocabulary to talk about these things • It’s time consuming to know people well enough to do this well • Takes continual focus not to project your own needs and ways of working on other people Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 27
  28. 28. Benefits of tailoring • Doesn’t just tolerate difference; explicitly values it • Allows individuals to express their unique needs/wants from their manager • Allows everyone to be transparent about their strengths and things they can’t easily provide • Draws on strengths of whole team, not just manager Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 28
  29. 29. Resources and tools… • Self awareness tools: – Strengthsfinder – Big Five Workplace – Myers Briggs • Needs analysis tools for managers/leaders: – The cards – The worksheet Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 We had a professional facilitator come and help the team work through individual and team analysis, but the book also provides really good ideas and specific guides for managing people with the various strength areas 29
  30. 30. Thank you! Margaret Gould Stewart mstewart@google.com Margaret Gould Stewart - The Manager as Tailor - Adaptive Path’s Managing Experience - April 21, 2008 30

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