Sep 24, 2020

How can I get a bigger project?

Hi Budi, I’ve been following your blog… I am a product designer in a fairly small company. My manager always assign me to a small project that I’m not excited about. I’m quite concern with my career, for instance how can I get promotion and develop my portfolio if the project is way too small. Do you have tips for someone in this situation?

That’s a snippet from a reader – I’ll call her Nia – where she asked how to get a more significant project in their career. She felt her manager is not giving her a significant project.

I thought this is a fascinating question because I remember I had this question back then. When I read the question, I understand that she feels that she gets an insignificant project and worries about her impact and her career progress.

That’s a valid concern. But let’s explore several confronting questions.

First, you have to believe no one have an ill-intention. No one in the right mind will want to slow down your career progression. I hope this statement ease you for the next questions.

Have you demonstrate that you’re ready for a bigger project? Your manager might give you a specific-detailed project. That is actually good if you just started in the team. The design manager might want to see how you can handle that detailed project first before giving you a more complex problem. In this case, try to fall in love with the problem and dig deeper. Imagine you get a task to design an entry point, well, that itself is not interesting. But, you need to dig deeper to understand why this entry point is needed? Maybe most customers are not aware of that helpful feature which can save tons of their time.

Do you have confidence to work on more complex problem? Don’t feel small when your project is not as cool as your colleagues. I’ve seen a design manager who gives his designer responsibility too quickly and their project to fail badly. In this case, the design manager didn’t set his designer for success. See the small project as your starting point. Grab that quick win and slowly progressing to more complex problem.

Have you talked to your manager about this? I can give a few suggestions, but more importantly, you should have a heart-to-heart conversation with your manager. Before that, though, build enough rapport with your manager. Don’t rush because this is all about trust. For example, I lead several product designers. I know who I can trust because they have demonstrated that capability to drive the project and who I need to give a smaller project to boost her confidence through small wins.

So, fall in love with the problem, dig deeper, demonstrate your skill, and build trust with your manager. Remember, don’t try to be an instant noodle! It requires time to get better.

I hope this helps. Cheers!

A handshake in thought.

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