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Measuring Designer Performance

As former Vice President of Design at Twitter, Mike Davidson played a big role in how the product design teams were held accountable for their work. He wrote recently about how they measured employee performance, in particular how they factor around whether the designer’s project(s) were successful.

As an employee, you aren’t always in control of the hand you’re dealt, the other people at the table, or the unpredictable ways the process unfolds. It is your job to behave in a way that maximizes the chances of success. If you’re a designer, this may mean prototyping an interaction an exhaustive amount of ways.

Mike Davidson, Evaluating Employees in Product Design & Development Roles

Measuring performance is a thorny subject even at the best of times. When your work is highly collaborative and the success of a particular project or product is dependent on any number of factors (internal AND external), it can be difficult to measure an individual’s contribution to the overall team.

Twitter attempted to tackle this problem by looking at employees more holistically, gathering perspectives from multiple people who interact with each employee and avoiding the easier (but less meaningful) metrics that can be affected by outside factors.

It’s easy, and frankly lazy, to judge outcomes. Only upon thoughtful evaluation can you judge decisions and behaviors, which — as in poker, football, and product development — maximize your chances of success over the long haul.

Mike Davidson, Evaluating Employees in Product Design & Development Roles

Instead, they focus on four pillars:

  1. Getting things done. Does the designer do what they promise to?
  2. Creating strong relationships. Does the designer work well with their team and cross-functionally?
  3. Improving the team. Does the designer branch out and help others at the team and company grow?
  4. Technical skills, empathy, and vision. Does the designer show talent and skill at their role?

Team members that work with the employee provide feedback on all of these pillars to help give a varied and more balanced view of their performance. This approach gives a broader perspective on employee performance and minimizes the impact of things outside the employee’s control.

This was a good take on measuring employee performance, and I recommend reading Mike’s post in full.

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