First-Person Job Descriptions


About a week ago, our Design Director asked me for input on where I see their role end and begin. Over the past year, their involvement on the team has evolved with our growth as an agency. Without a job description, there are times when they feel unsure where to focus and pulled in different directions.

Our Design Director has been with us for years now, initially joining us as a Designer. It's interesting what happens when an employee grows along with the agency. As new roles are unlocked, current roles evolve. That often means distributing responsibilities and sharpening the scope of each role. That was the situation here. We both understood how the Design Director role fit in but hadn't zoomed out to articulate that and align on it.

Initially, I tried writing a formal job description, but it felt cold and detached for someone I've worked with for so long. I thought back to my motorcycle training course where we were asked to take a pledge after each lesson. Committing to the lesson learned hit much harder than a simple review. I wondered how this could apply to job descriptions.

Instead of "Oversee the team's work assignments. Your goal is to create an environment for your team to do their best work and drive results for our clients," I wrote:

  • I facilitate my team’s tasks and projects. I make sure that everyone is assigned to work where they are engaged, growing, and able to do their best.
  • I create an environment for my team to do their best work while driving results for the client and agency.

This hit differently and once I got going, the rest of the list nearly created itself. On Friday, our Design Director and I reviewed the list. I asked them to read each statement aloud, ask questions, and give feedback. They commented on the feeling of ownership as we analyzed every word.

In the end, I am so glad this conversation took place. Our Design Director and I talk daily. If they hadn't brought this up, I would have continued helping them manage priorities and day-to-day experiences without seeing the big picture. This experience was a good reminder to create space to zoom out and make sure not to miss the forest for the trees.

I look forward to seeing how this approach might roll might fit in more places across the agency, likely starting with our Team Leads.


Funny story: I was deleting photos on my phone this weekend to create space and came across handwritten notes mapping out the future of the Design team (4 or so years ago) before the Design Director role existed.

Very cool to see where we are now and how closely this tracks with what I shared on Friday! I'm not sure why I never digitized this or made it a thing? Who knows, but I'll take it as a sign from the Universe that we're headed in a good direction.

This post originally appeared in Edition No. 083 of my newsletter. Subscribe here.

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