Nicholas Tenhue's Management Manifesto

I'm not keen on telling people what to do. I believe that the people I work with are smart problem solvers, so I will try to support your decision-making process (even if it's not the way I would do things). Always feel free to ask for help and make suggestions and guide you down the correct path (occasionally I'll give advice when you don't ask for it, but this usually means I've experienced that situation before and have something to contribute). If there is a time when I feel very strongly about a decision, I'll always present evidence to make my case. On the UX team, we let the data make decisions.

There may be times when things outside my influence stop us from doing what we think is right, but believe me that I'll always work toward outcomes that are best for the UX team and the 'user.'

Some key things about the way I work:

  • I want to facilitate and empower individuals on the team to help them reach their full potential - tell me what you want to achieve, and we'll work together to reach those goals.
  • I will do my best to take the heat when there is pressure from elsewhere - if you're having an issue come and tell me.
  • Think of me as a guide and an enabler for you to do what's best for users of our products.
  • I'm not the type to shout or dictate instructions - there is work to be done, I will help drive you and enable you to succeed.
  • I won't take credit for the things you do; we celebrate success as a team.
  • I will give you feedback, and I expect you to do the same - whether it's negative or positive I want to hear it; otherwise we can't improve and perform.

I don't buy into a 60-hour week schedule. There will be times when we need to put in extra work to reach a milestone, but I don't want to make these the norm. I'll strive to communicate with various stakeholders to ensure that we achieve visibility on upcoming work, so we have time to plan. Burnout isn't cool.

The work we produce is always better when the objectives are clear, the team is happy, and processes are well understood. If you feel that:

  • Your skills aren't being well utilized
  • You don't know to proceed in a certain situation
  • You don't understand the problem you're trying to solve

Come and talk to me and we'll take action to remove these issues.

Decision making

For me, decision making is a team sport. It's your role to advocate for the user. Use your voice to articulate for what is best for the user and present evidence to support your claim. You might not win every battle, but by speaking up, we can drive the business toward customer centricity and create real value. We all communicate more coherently in different ways; share your opinion in a meeting, in a well-crafted email, or a one-to-one conversation. Whatever works best for you, as long as it is timely and the relevant people hear your voice.

Continual alignment

I'm not a fan of big unveilings where designs get shown after they are made pixel perfect. Show me your designs as works-in-progress, and we can have productive design critiques.

Meetings, meetings, meetings

I believe all meetings should have an agenda, a distinctive purpose or aim, and actionable outcomes. If a meeting is not the most efficient communication method, decline and reach out in another way. Feel free to call me out if I'm dragging you to a meeting that doesn't meet this criterion.

One on ones

1:1s are your time, so it's up to you to make the most of them. I will ask how you're doing and let you know what I'm working on, but this is also a chance for you to suggest things and let me know how I'm doing as your manager. Again, different people prefer different styles of communication - if you would prefer updating each other via email, that's fine, but I think face-to-face communication is a good way to build rapport. If you feel that you need more than our allotted 1:1 timeslot to discuss something important, schedule a meeting in my calendar (see my note on meetings above).

Collaboration with other teams

Collaboration is key to success; without alignment things often get miscommunicated, and things start to fall apart. There are many tools in our UX toolbox that we can use to facilitate cross-functional group collaboration. Come and tell me if you are having trouble articulating design decisions or communicating concepts with other teams; I'm more than happy to run a workshop and share tools you need to discuss UX and problem solve.

Open and transparent

I strive to create an environment where constructive discussions can happen. You should feel confident in your ability to push back when you don't agree with something. We are all on a level playing field, and you should feel comfortable when raising issues with me. If I don't know the answer to a question, I will tell you, "I don't know." If I know the answer and can tell you, I will; if I know the answer but is it not appropriate to share, I'll say, "I know, but I cannot tell you because..." We work in an environment where certain information is not mine to share, but I will never withhold information unless I have been specifically asked to do so.

What I expect from you

Show up and get excited about the products we're building. Think about ways to approach problems with the end-user at the center of everything you do. Always learn new things and share what you learn with the team; use our knowledge sharing sessions at a venue to help others learn new things. Help us change the company culture to a design-driven and user-centered one. Form opinions based on detailed analysis of user needs UCD best practices, secondary research, and insights from your peers. Present your conclusions and be prepared to defend them with reliable evidence. When things don't work, and somebody else gives a stronger argument, be willing to pivot. Mistakes and setbacks will occur during our time together; I ask that instead of covering up your mistakes, that you discuss and learn from them to become a better designer, researcher, and problem solver.

How to connect with me

I'm available at almost all hours of the week, especially when the subject is urgent. You might get an odd email or message from me outside of work hours (as I work through my email 'backlog'), but I don't have any expectation for you to reply outside business hours. No bonus points for weekend emails.

  • Phone: 021 729 158
  • Email:
  • Face-to-face: I'm usually in the office during work hours, don't hesitate to interrupt me if you have a question
  • Slack: Messages with GIFs get a faster reply
  • Linkedin:
  • Twitter:

Steal this document

I wrote this document after reading August de los Reyes' (Head of Design at Pinterest) management manifesto. He encouraged people to steal his manifesto and make it their own. I invite you to do the same and write down what people can expect from you and share it with your peers; it will act as a reminder of how we want to work together.