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Agony uncle

Agony uncle

This week, I’m looking at the problem of working with a team that doesn’t seem to have any interest in what you do.

Problem

Despite telling my team that I’m a content designer, I keep finding out about meetings that have taken place that I should have been in after the fact. When I point out that I should be included, there are always apologies and a promise to make sure I’m included, but nothing seems to be changing. I’m frustrated and wondering what the point of my being on the team is.

Advice

How you approach this depends on lots of factors.

  • How confident you are / how much social equity you have.
  • How experienced the rest of the team are.
  • How much time pressure there is.

My technical author role transitioned to a content designer role (and that includes UX writing in our org). It’s a big change for everyone because suddenly the lines became blurred between the designer and what I was now responsible for.

For customer journey mapping it can pay to have an internal colleague take part and ask the questions that others might be afraid to ask. I’m frequently saying ‘I know this is a stupid question but what if…’ and then getting pleased looks from the others because it helps draw out things they haven’t considered.

You need to find a way to demonstrate the value you bring. For a designer that may be through taking the pressure off them in producing content for their prototypes, letting them know that you’re taking care of that.

I made sure to volunteer to listen in on user research phone calls where protoypes were being tested. I scribed to take the pressure off the researcher, and we both benefited. I got used to the language and terminology the customer was using and the researcher was free to focus on the call itself.

We’ve recently gone through a painful amount of redesign of wireframes. It pays to be familiar with the journey so you can contribute as an equal in those discussions.

If you’re not getting included in meetings, just keep asking (or if they’re physically co-located) barge into the meeting rooms (I have a colleague who does this fearlessly for any meeting she felt would benefit her, the worst that can happen is they ask you to leave).

Having deliverables that you own might also help. I’ve started using copy docs in Word to demonstrate the word choices and to show before and after content for redesigns. Whilst that could in theory be done in the same software as wireframes and protoypes, there’s a benefit for me in keeping my own controllable archive of content. And it serves as something that can be shared and discussed in isolation from the designs (which can sometimes be really helpful with certain stakeholders).

If chipping away and finding your own way to add value doesn’t get you any traction, you should raise this with managers. Somebody at some time decided they needed you in that role. Remind them why.