How can I lead performance evaluations for UX professionals? UX Question #66

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Bennett P. from Columbus, Ohio, asks: How can I lead performance evaluations for UX professionals?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Bennett. This is UX Question number 66 and I am Ben Judy.

How can I lead performance evaluations for UX professionals? I’ve been a UX manager or director in several different organizations, and this is a critical need for UX team leaders. You need a consistent and clear framework for assessing the skills and performance of your team members.

Let’s think about some qualities of a good performance evaluation framework. The framework should enable you (as the manager or leader) to provide clear feedback and coaching. It should create a clear set of expectations, so your UX people know what skills they should demonstrate on the job. It should create a level playing field—so everyone knows they’re all being evaluated against the same standard. And a good framework would clarify the differences in expectations between levels.

A good way to start building this kind of framework is to expand upon your job descriptions. Take the requirements listed in your UX designer or UX researcher job postings, and then add assessment criteria that explains how to determine if someone is doing a good job in that role.

There are lots of way to organize a UX performance evaluation framework. One way to do it is in three sections: UX processes, Project skills, and Personal qualities.

So in the UX processes section, you would provide evaluation criteria for ‘hard skills’ like qualitative and quantitative user research, information architecture, visual design, and UI prototyping.

In the Project skills section, you would assess ‘soft skills’ like proactivity, strategic thinking, systems approach, idea generation and creativity.

In the Personal qualities section, you would assess how a contributor collaborates with others, with factors such as communication, influence, empathy towards colleagues, and cultural contributions.

There are other ways to slice and dice a framework. I think what’s more important than how you organize it, is that the criteria are clear and specific. You must be able to assess performance by looking at a contributor’s deliverables and impact they create, and by listening to feedback from peers.

I also think it’s important to build in scalability, especially in a larger organization. Let’s say you start creating your framework for evaluating UX designers and UX researchers. That’s fine, but are there other UX roles that also need definition? Do you have UX writers, Usability Analysts, DesignOps or ReOps people? Your framework should not only address all UX roles that currently exist—but provide a clear path to creating new, role-specific profiles whenever new roles are created in your organization.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: Why do Product Managers get paid more than Designers?

Referenced in this episode:

  • Tips And Tricks For Evaluating UX/UI Designers by Nataliya Sambir at Smashing Magazine

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