The day I became THE BOSS.
And how it could have been an awful experience.
A short story on managing a creative team.
Recently, I started giving classes to a Post Grad bunch of students. They were in an Interface Design course. My class was full of people that already knew a lot of User Experience, probably more than I did back then.
And I, kind of, didn’t know how to address myself to them (hey, I was a first-timer. No judgment please). But I had signed up to the task, and even if I stuttered and tremble I would still have to teach them something.
So an “angel” came from the sky (metaphorically, but true ’cause he was above me in the teacher pay-grade food chain) and gave me the best/worst possible advice on how to behave in front of the students:
You are the boss. They’re your employees. So treat them like that.
My first reaction was a mix of disgust and sadness. That wasn’t what the students deserved. At least, that’s not what I would like as a student.
And then, it hit me like a rock. Although what the guy meant was for me to use a vertical hierarchy and treat the students as cubicle-employees, insert some fear and be the boss. I figured out something much nicer.
I will treat them like I would want to be as a student.
Like an equal.
I will be the best teacher I can be and try to challenge the students in ways they weren’t used to. Not to skyrocket them out of their comfort zone, but to figure out the amount of pushes everyone needed to improve their Design overall quality.
So I followed a few ground rules.
The 4 most respectful things I could do for them:
- Studied the content hard, so if they were in doubt of something I would do my best to answer;;
- Taught the value of good Design as a form of respect for the user, and to resemble that, I tried my best to put up an impeccable Keynote;
- Brought real life working examples in everything I showed them so I could spare them from BS;
- Made them acknowledge that I am not perfect, so if I can make mistakes, why shouldn’t they? Feeling free to experiment is mandatory.
The end results were fantastic. After the class, some students came to thank me for teaching them in a new way. I felt great with the feeling of mission accomplished and got to make a bunch of new friends.
Thank you for reading,