Honest learnings from managing the Design team at Uncacademy

Charmie Kapoor
2 min readSep 10, 2023

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I’ve been managing a team for over 2 years now. It started with leading a pod with 2 designers, to currently overlooking multiple product verticals with a team of 12 designers.

Here are my learnings, in no particular order –

  • There’s going to be constant context-switching — different tasks, projects, priorities, even multiple times an hour.
  • You’ll have to interact with a lot of people. Even on days when you don’t feel like it.
  • Prepare for a lot of unsexy, yet crucial administrative tasks and meetings.
  • Without realising, you’ll shape a mini culture within your team. This drastically affects the overall internal and external dynamics.
  • Every designer and peer you work with has a preferred style of working. Embrace it and help them become more productive.
  • Every team member will expect a different time commitment, involvement, and support from you.
  • Effective delegation is an underrated tool.
  • During specific periods, you won’t actually ‘design’ anything yourself.
  • Days oscillate between extreme predictability and complete newness and fun. over time, you’re ready for anything and nothing surprises you.
  • Brace yourself for a wide range of questions. especially in 1:1 meetings.
  • Get ready to do a lot of writing: feedback, comments, action item lists, reviews…
  • Designers often don’t recognize their own strengths. It’s your job to identify it and communicate it regularly.
  • Take the time to genuinely appreciate good work. It’s a great morale booster.
  • Set a high bar for work, but also be forgiving. Everyone makes mistakes.
  • Managing up is a crucial skill. How you communicate the work and information directly influences how it is perceived.
  • Being a storyteller becomes a regular part of your role, effortlessly getting the team pumped and excited on many days.
  • Tough conversations and decisions are a part of your role.
  • There are more reasons for people to not like you (yeah).
  • You’ll have to respectfully navigate a pool of sub-par ideas and suggestions. directly shooting them down every time might not be the best approach.
  • The team will pleasantly surprise you on some days. On others, they’ll fall short and disappoint. We’re all human.
  • The thrill of a new launch never loses its excitement. You get to witness more of them now.
  • A lot of your contributions become intangible. It may become difficult to quantify your impact at times.
  • A highly motivated team is an absolute blessing — nothing beats intent, not even skills.
  • The buck stops with you. Own up to decisions and outcomes.

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Charmie Kapoor

Associate Director of Design, Unacademy • Alum: Harvard, IIT-G • Ex-Microsoft, Dunzo