Cap Watkins

Cap Watkins

Founder at Practical Works

Leadership Coaching and Org Consulting at @practical_works. Previously VP of Design at BuzzFeed. Also a design person at Etsy and Amazon.

5 action items

Standardize a team’s criteria for evaluating design candidates

    • Write a Career Track

      Everyone on your team needs the same context in order to properly evaluate folks. If you don't have one, it can be as simple as just a set of bullet points for each role's responsibilities at different skill levels. Regardless, make sure that it's actually representative of the work people do day-to-day, and that the people you assign to interviews have read over those bullets.... See more

    • Be Targeted With Your Interviews

      Every interview should have a purpose behind it! Every interviewer should be attempting to gather data that's different than what's being gathered by other interviewers. Have people focus on different areas, rather than performing general-purpose interviews in order to allow people to go deep on specific topics and get a clear picture. Additionally, help interviewers come up with questions that get you, the hiring manager, the information you need to make a good decision.... See more

    • Don't Let Individual Interviewers Evaluate Candidates!

      If you think about it, each interviewer only has a sliver of the information you need to make a decision about whether to hire a candidate or not. If you have 5 different interviewers, each only has 20% of the overall picture from the interview, so having people "evaluate" a candidate based on their one interview is at best misleading as an indicator. Instead, ask interviewers to document where candidates are clearly strong, and where they may need professional development. Take all that data and compare it to the shape of the role you're hiring for. Do the strengths and growth-areas make sense for that role, level, team, part of the org, etc.? Do they make sense in another role you have open? You as the hiring manager are the one with the holistic perspective and understanding of what the role entails and what strengths and growth areas are dealbreakers.... See more

Understand if design management is right for you

    • As with most things you're curious about, give it a shot and then be intentional about checking in with yourself!

    • Try It!

      Going into management is not a one-way door (a common misconception!). If you're interested, and your manager thinks it's a good idea, it's worth trying it out for awhile! As with most new things, it will be uncomfortable at first in some ways, so stick with it for 6-12 months and then evaluate how it's going and how you're feeling. Alternatively, find low-risk ways to try it out! Lead a team of 1-2 designers on a project (without doing any of the work yourself), offer to manage a couple interns and treat them like you'd imagine treating your team as a manager. Check in with yourself, your manager and the designers afterward about how it went, what to think about if you move forward, etc.... See more

    • Checking In With Yourself

      Stealing this from Designing Your Life: after managing for 6-12 months, spend two weeks documenting which activities in your day leave you feeling super energized, and which leave you feeling drained. Do you leave administrative and strategy meetings feeling excited? Or do you find yourself just wanting to go home for the day right after? Are the best parts of your week running design workshops with the team, or giving design feedback? Doing this exercise can really help you understand where you should be spending more of your time, and also help you shape your career path. I know folks who've done this exercise and then realized they really wanted to switch back over to designing full-time instead of managing. Others have realized they love management and are in the exact right role for them.... See more