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Org Design for Design Orgs by Peter Merholz, Kristin Skinner

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Chapter 7. Developing the Team: Professional Growth and Managing People

In Chapter 3, we stated that one of the qualities of successful design organizations is that they “treat team members as people, not resources.” This quality is most evident in how people are managed, and how their professional growth is supported. Companies may question why they should do so much for their staff—isn’t a good job with a steady paycheck enough? Considering the difficulty of finding, hiring, and retaining talent in this heated design job market, investing time in thoughtful management and professional development pays dividends in three ways every business will appreciate:

Reputation

Quality improves as team members are more deeply engaged, bolstering the company’s reputation as a place to do good design work.

Retention

Churn is reduced, lowering recruiting costs and the overhead of onboarding.

Recruiting

Team members become advocates for joining the team, saving additional recruiting expenses.

Levels Framework for Designers

Any design organization has a responsibility to grow their people. Given that design is a craft of practice, the primary means for such growth are widening and deepening design skills. In addition, as the designer becomes more senior, growth must also take into account soft skills and leadership skills, those that help them not just work with others but get the most out of them.

Levels and Career Paths

Many companies use a framework of levels to chart the seniority of employees. Typically, ...

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