Healthy Product Manager

    What kind of managers do designers at grocery companies like or how to make collaboration work high

    Hello! I am Vanya Solovyov , design director of DocDoc (part of the Sberbank group). Today is the Tim-Tim column , in which I will describe how we get along with other teams.


    In our company, designers are not just performers. Together with managers, they participate in market research, competitors and user experience; delve into analytics, build and test hypotheses. They have a common goal - to make the product better. They are partners.

    We love our managers, but this was not always the case ...

    Smoker product manager: customer → performer

    The manager comes with a ready-made solution, hands out a prototype interface drawn on a piece of paper and says - draw. It will be good if he talks about the problem, and does not throw a link to the protocol in Google documents. Is that familiar? We also went through this stage of team growth, when the manager sees in the designer only the final executor of his ideas.


    Cons of this approach for the designer:

    • weak motivation - it does not directly affect the product;
    • cannot self-actualize - at work uses a couple of basic skills and that’s it;
    • poor communication - not ready to defend their decisions, even if they are better than those proposed by the manager;
    • low involvement - connect at the last stage, do not see the whole task;

    For the company:

    • the interface is created out of context - it is not always optimal and rarely achieves its goals;
    • the manager’s impotence - when everything goes wrong, he heaps the designer with edits instead of clear explanations;
    • no consistency - the interface after a certain number of iterations starts to “fall apart”, since managers rarely monitor the integrity of the entire project;
    • superficial solutions - the manager does not have much time to think over the solution well, therefore the interface can be literally based on nothing.

    Often, such a manager does not have a goal to do the task well. He seeks to close one task and move on to the next. This “habit” passes to the designer and the process closes - the manager gives his solution to the problem → the designer draws without thinking → the task goes into development . Further, everything can be dispensed with, or maybe not: the user will get an uncomfortable interface, business - a drop in conversion.
    If you recognize yourself, think about what will happen to you after a year of working in this style. How far will you go in your development?

    What to do?

    First, determine whether this style of work is able to bring you satisfaction, because not everyone needs constant development, you can also be content with the role of an artist.

    If you decide that this does not suit you, and you like the company - it's time to establish processes. Here are some tips to help us:

    • Nothing will change in the moment. Change takes time and it’s better to be prepared for it.
    • Try to “show” rather than “prove” the strength of your decisions. Do not prove to the manager that he is wrong, show that there are other ways to solve the problem. For example, conduct an interview and show off your accounting interface and share your observations with the manager. Remember - you want to become partners.
    • Wanted to work on a task from the very beginning together with the manager, but is he against it? Show that you are driven by a single goal - to increase the usability of the product: the user will faster perform their tasks, the grandmother will be able to use the interface, etc. And that together you have a better chance of doing it.
    • Argument your decisions logically and ask the manager to do the same. This will help weed out controversial decisions in the spirit of "I like it better." It’s good practice to rely on research results: “I looked at competitors and there it was like that” or “showed a prototype to users and they said this and that”

    Healthy Product Manager: Partners

    At this level of relationship, the real work begins. The manager listens and appreciates the decisions of the designer. Delegates part of the responsibilities - because it trusts.
    The manager understands that a product that is useful for the user and valuable for the business needs to be done together
    With such a manager, the designer quickly acquires new skills and immediately puts them into practice. He begins to look wider and sees the task not in isolation, but in the context of the entire ecosystem of the product.


    The advantages of this approach for the designer:

    • strong motivation - directly affects the product and user experience;
    • Allows self-fulfillment - in the work uses versatile skills, simultaneously developing them;
    • soft skills are well pumped - learns to conduct research, test its prototypes on users and gains the qualities of a product manager;
    • high involvement - in each task seeks to show all their knowledge and skills.

    For the company:

    • fewer iterations - the designer understands what and why he does, can offer better solutions and therefore the number of edits from the manager is reduced;
    • the quality of projects improves - delegating part of the tasks to the designer, the manager has more time to work out the solution itself;
    • expansion of responsibility - the designer is worried not only about the beauty of the interface, but also about its results “in battle”; Conversion growth pleases both the designer and the company more than beautiful buttons.

    Instead of totals

    Not all managers are ready for this principle of work. Some are conservative, it is difficult for them to adopt a new style of work. The latter seem to want, but they cannot - the processes in the company do not allow to introduce innovations. And others want to work at their own comfortable pace and just close tasks.

    We still have several conservative managers who are not given this easy approach to working with a designer, but I’m sure that this is only a matter of time.

    Finally, I want to say hello to our managers: Grisha, Dasha, Cyril, Roma, Luda and Bogdan - we love you!

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