What makes a good In-house design team – Tips #6 to #10

Posted by on Mar 11, 2016 in articles, in-house design, leadership | No Comments

Hi all, this is the second part of my 10 key points from my years in the in-house design field that can apply to teams and those that manage or work with them.

#6 – To not feel threatened when stakeholders engage with external agencies

There are times when going to external agencies just makes sense. Usually when the in-house team have a full work load, when the project requires a high-level niche skill or when the deadline is very, very tight. Most in-house teams/individuals completely understand this need without having to be notified or involved. However, by accessing an external agencies for work that can be done by your in-house team you run the risk of alienating your in-house team and giving them the impression they’re not valued. It’s always a good idea to notify the key point of contact with the design team on the whys of approaching an external agency and extra good if you offer the opportunity for some in-house involvement which could be as simple as assisting in approving design work.

#7 – Full, comprehensive briefs and the ability to discuss concerns with workload

All designers regardless of what environment they work operate well with a clear, well-thought out brief delivered in time to digest and formulate questions on before starting on creative work. It also gives the a point of reference to refer back to instead of contacting a stakeholder more often than necessary. A kick off meeting is an added bonus and gives designers and stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the brief and raise any issues, amends or suggestions early on.

#8 – Support to learn about what is outside the role of ‘designer’

Not all designers have an appetite to learn skills outside of the ‘Design’ role, and that’s 100% ok. However, I would always suggest that learning what your stakeholders and colleagues do, both day-to-day and over a longer period of time enables the designer to empathise with how the rest of the business works. The better understanding the designer has of the business the more ‘future-proof’ and considered their design solutions may be.

#9 – Empower designers to be active with the local, national and global design community

Much like having access to other designs to ping ideas off of, being involved in the wider design community benefits us all as a collective. It helps us share new ideas and ways of working across in-house, agency and freelance. We learn from each other best practice and re-charge our creative batteries through attending design panels, talks and conferences as well as brief-challenges and jam sessions.
Chances are there’s something going on local to you so encourage curricular activities and make it known that the designers effort outside of the working 9-5 is appreciated.

#10 – Some unique perks

Designers (much like everyone else) have some specific needs. They often like the ability to progress new skills, work on personal projects, read industry magazines/books or apply wider abstracted knowledge to their day to day work. They may have a theory they’d like to write about or a blog they like to update. Time to read a book offsite with a coffee or a quiet space to draw or paint. Whatever the itch that needs scratching try your best to enable that within core working hours, striking a balance between the daily grind and enjoyable activities.
Suggestions include: A buy a book scheme, Online training or access to an external studio to work from.


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