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How to build a UX team that thrives: design roles with intention.


How to build a UX team that thrives: design roles with intention. How to build a UX team that thrives: design roles with intention.

Listen: How to build a UX team that thrives: design roles with intention.

This post is the first in a three-part series that explores how managers and leaders can help their UX teams thrive by putting human-centered practices into action. Part one focuses on crafting job roles with intention.

Bundling can be good for internet plans or your vacation package, but it's often terrible for a UX designer's career.

But we simply cannot expect an individual to carry the weight of multiple roles—no matter the brand reputation, the compensation package, or the benefits and perks on offer. As managers, you'd be setting the individual, your team, yourself, and your organization up for burnout and, ultimately, failure. 

In the UX industry, we commonly see job postings that combine multiple full-time jobs, forming such career stumbling blocks as “UX Designer / Researcher / Front end Developer” or “Human-centered UX Designer & Product Lead.”

Encourage career growth, don't expect the impossible

Is this amalgamation syndrome a matter of organizational naiveté (or intent)? Is it over-buzzwording in order to index better on job posting websites? 

Whatever the reason, it's up to us as hiring managers and designers to clearly identify what is within the job scope and what is outside of it—before the job description is published online.

It's perfectly fine—nay, fantastic—for a UX designer to be curious about complementary roles within a design organization. Or to dip into other roles and assist as opportunity affords. For example, recognizing how their role impacts and thrives from research is an imperative toward collaboration and connection, from “understanding” to “output.” Or how a designer who engages with front end development is dialed into the underlying implications of their creative decisions. This is healthy exploration and, dare I say, “play” that won't lock you into juggling untenable commitments.

Burnout, anxiety, and moral injury have been at high levels in the workplace due to everything we as a society have experienced in the world over the last few years. On top of it all, unhealthy expectations in the office have led to the Great Resignation—and though the attrition-based numbers have softened of late, the takeaway is all the same: job hunters and those in misaligned roles aren't settling. So the solution is clear: Support healthy exploration and career growth while protecting new hires from unreasonable expectations. That's the key to retention and fulfillment. 

Now that you've developed clearly defined roles with a reasonable scope of responsibilities and impact, you're ready to hire. In the second post of our three-part series, we'll look at how you can apply human-centered design principles to your hiring process.

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Justin Dauer

Justin is an internationally renowned design leader, author, and speaker from Chicago. You'll find him often engaging with the AIGA's speaking events, interviewed in Forbes magazine and Medium's “Forge” publication, and penning articles for Aquent, CEO World Magazine, and A List Apart. He speaks internationally on culture and design, including keynotes at the UXPA International conference, Midwest UX, and St. Louis Design Week. Justin is also the writer of the celebrated book “Creative Culture,” a former VP of Design at CVS Health, and currently a design and strategy consultant for hire.    


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