How can I influence designers who don’t want to learn or grow?
Your question reminds me of the critical question a mentor posed to me as I was weighing a few job offers: “Are you earning, learning, and burning?” The idea is of course, finding that place where you feel you’re pursuing your passion, making sufficient money (where you feel worthy compensation for your effort and expertise), and stimulated enough to learn — which implies growth. If you’re not learning and growing, you’re stagnating and on the path to either burnout or dissipating out of existence — you just kind of fade out while others who are learning/growing will supercede you in terms of career development, leadership, and greater influence levels of impact.
Which makes me wonder if the designers you speak of maybe aren’t aware of the risks of not learning and advancing their growth, evolving from rote production towards roles of true influence and leadership. Maybe they’re too caught up in the velocity of sprint delivery — which has its own kind of comfortable cadence, simply doing what’s being asked. But also how that will impact adversely their own job opportunities in the future, salary growth prospects (they’ll just flatline or even drop), and even tackling increasingly cooler, impactful projects. Another approach is laying out a career pathing model, with clear explanations of what’s expected and valued, with incentives (material and otherwise) for going up the ladder, perhaps with role models within the community or company.
I’d also suggest having some authentic (albeit uncomfortable) conversations either 1-1 or small group about what their thoughts/POVs are on where they are, issues/questions/gaps they notice (or don’t) and how to connect them up in terms of moving forward. The bigger issue, as I assume you’re the UX team leader, is setting expectations about what kind of UX team you intend to build and develop and the kinds of people you want to enroll into that. A bit tough-love perhaps but if you have a strong sense for that team vision and mission, you need to clearly articulate it in a way that they get the purpose and why growth/learning is vital. And if they don’t want to be part of that, well then they can self-select. And in a way, that’s a kind of learning & growth too. As a leader you have to set the stage for that teachable moment to arise, hopefully in a positive manner!
Do you agree with Uday? What else might you suggest—or do differently? Please share your own advice in the comments.
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