Resolving Conflicts Between Engineers And Designers

Matt Martin

CEO at Clockwise



"When working as Engineering Manager of Salesforce, my engineering team worked closely with design. We sat next to each other, so they felt like part of the team, but in terms of a reporting structure, the designers reported to a design manager who reported to product. However, I was once faced with a conflict between one of my engineers and a designer."

Actions taken

"When faced with a conflict between an engineer and a designer, I start by talking to the engineer and the designer about what they are seeing, and I then try to get the two to talk directly with one another. It's really helpful to get down to the nuances of what the designer and the engineer are trying to facilitate. There's often either a disagreement about product or process. Once you can understand the detail about whether the process is breaking down or whether there's a product disagreement, then you can get into the minutiae. In this case, there was a communication issue. My engineer thought that they were implementing the designer's designs, but the designer was seeing all the things the engineer hadn't done. Once I realized this, I sat down with the engineer, helped to build things using pair coding, and helped him work through how to implement things and what questions to ask the designer. We'd then send a Slack message to the designer to ask what they think about certain issues. Opening up the communication lines then really helped to disarm the situation, and the engineer and designer then opened up direct lines of communication."

Lessons learned

"Spending time communicating with your direct report in a less traditional way, such as code pairing, is an unintuitive way to help to solve an issue of conflict. When design and frontend engineering work well, they are a powerful combination. However, you have to keep an eye on the relationship of the engineers and designers, as designers can disrespect designers' wishes, which can result in a very negative relationship."

Be notified about next articles from Matt Martin

Matt Martin

CEO at Clockwise

CommunicationEngineering Management

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up