My 2021 self-evaluation

The twists and turns of my prior role are relevant to my new role. My self-eval of 2021 contains lessons for me now, though the stated goals of my new role will be related but different. (Edited to anonymize.)

What are the top three accomplishments you want to celebrate this review cycle? (Please include specifics: dates, outcomes, team members, metrics/data)

I had a handful of goals and subgoals since starting. Some of these I have been successful in.

Increase UX Design capacity to meet demand, which meant

  • Seek temporary capacity from known good sources
  • Hire for open positions
  • Establish job descriptions and UX career ladder
  • Adjust hiring process to be more rapid

I did all of these over the course of one and a half quarters, though we later lost three of our six designers and are back near where we started (one to another role, one to health issues, and one to performance and budget). So this is both an area of accomplishment and an area for improvement, as I have two positions that remain open at this moment.

Review and approve “One Look” style guide

It turns out that our pattern library was not in a coherent or approvable state and we needed to pick up the pieces. So I allocated some capacity to it, coached [person] in how to proceed, and we’ve since adopted it as a team even as it continues to improve. It’ll always be a work in progress, but we hear that at least two engineering teams are starting to share components based on our work there. Short of a CTO-level initiative to change coding practices this is about as good a result as we could hope for โ€“ engineers seeing the value and taking initiative. We also have POs interested in the contents of the pattern library as they look over the engineering teamโ€™s work and seek to provide better guidance and checking that things are made well.

Recruit to begin establishing UX Research capability

I was successful in this goal until it was withdrawn for budget reasons. It involved

  • Writing our first research job description and including research functions in the career ladder
  • Coaching and calibrating internal recruiting to find the right sorts of candidates

We got to the point where we found a great candidate and made an offer! But it was not to be, budget-wise.

What are three areas you could improve based on your performance during 2021?  (Please include specifics: dates, outcomes, team members, metrics/data)

I could be more effective in driving the accessibility of our products. This isn’t an area that has a single owner โ€“ the responsibility and activities necessary to do a good job here are distributed over PM, design, engineering, and QA. Our organizational temptation is to assign a single owner, but what we really need are champions in each of the necessary disciplines, who are charged with working together to adjust our behavior end-to-end. This will be an ongoing effort, but I hope to make major progress in 1H. First step: gather champions.

I would like to devote more attention to adapting UX deliverables to better meet engineering needs and better foster experience quality. This will help with the above accessibility push. This will be an ongoing effort, but I hope to make major progress in 1H. This will involve enlisting the individual designers, their PO counterparts, and their tech leads to discuss what they are receiving, what it lacks, and what it doesnโ€™t need, and experimenting with adjustments.

I wish I had made more progress driving usability testing as a habit. I’ve chipped away at procedures, recruiting. tooling, buy-in, etc. but we have not made it over the hump yet. This will be an ongoing effort, but I hope to make major progress in Q1. I’m currently working on getting an unmoderated testing tool so that we can accomplish tests asynchronously.

Our mission is foundational to what we do.  How has your  work contributed to our mission?

I regularly re-orient discussion of our products’ features, new work, and remediation toward discussion of who it is for, what scenario they are in, what goals they have, and how we can best help with those goals. As I seek to improve our processes and overall experience quality in an effort to deliver economic value to the business and to our customers, I have a specific focus on improving our level of user contact and our attention on burden. This should make it easier for the above discussions to be successful. (Burden is not specifically mentioned in the mission, but in materials surrounding it, and we have chosen burden reduction as a key component of fulfilling the mission.)

Please reflect on your activities this year and provide examples of how you have contributed to our values of Integrity, Inclusion, and Innovation during the review cycle?

“Contributing to values” is all about embodiment and modeling.

Integrity โ€“ by which we mean honesty and strong ethical principles

I model for others being clear and communicative, dealing the good news and the bad, not hiding, and bringing thoughts and feelings to consciousness in the moment. An example of this is leaping into both communication and action once I realized that I had deleted the PM area of Confluence. I also help the people I support act with integrity by discussing their overlapping and conflicting motivations and helping them reframe these into a clear course of action with integrity.

Inclusion โ€“ by which we mean recruit/engage/retain diverse and empowered teams

I model for others an appropriately accommodating, empathetic, and observable-fact-based approach to supporting employees and peers, including guiding others to consider and deal effectively with the emotional components of business conversations. I have pressed recruiting to make sure we are casting a wide net, and have offered job boards to post on meant to improve the diversity of our applicants. I examine my own responses to candidates for evidence of unconscious bias. I exhibit genuine positive regard for all those I support.

Innovation โ€“ by which we mean creating value for customer and company

Our definition of innovation is, I think, too narrow. More traditional definitions of innovation involve introducing new ideas or methods. Improving our level of user contact will allow us to change our organizational behavior to better deliver quality through research-supported benefits-driven epics, concept generation and testing, and usability testing. I regularly relate difficulties our company faces to things I’ve learned or read elsewhere, seek new input from outside the company, and involve others in considering multiple ways forward for any challenge.

What are your goals for 2022? (Please include specifics: dates, outcomes, team members, metrics/data)

Drive the accessibility of our products

This will require us to

  • Complete training of UX team on accessibility topics by end of Q2 for existing employees
  • Offer relevant accessibility training to engineering and product teams in Q1
  • Work with QA to establish what accessibility details need to be defined in stories and what are to be handled by common test cases by the end of Q2
  • Develop the habit of meeting this agreement by the end of Q3

Adapt UX deliverables to better meet the needs of the engineering team

This will require us to

  • Examine engineering needs and adapt design deliverables to be lightweight yet complete, having discussed goals and experimenting with changes by end of Q2
  • Drive adoption and further improvement of the pattern library, ongoing
  • Gain agreement with POs about which acceptance criteria need to come from UX and what are the POsโ€™ responsibilities, by the start of 2H

Improve level of user contact team-wide

This will require us to

  • Increase level of research outside of Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) in products that have UX involvement: at least one non-CAB research activity per month per product by start of 2H
  • Make usability testing a habit in products that have UX involvement: at least one test round per โ€œUX neededโ€ epic by end of 2H except where change is experientially trivial

Improve the integration of the product content team into design, development, and go-to-market activities

This will require us to

  • Catalog product content deliverables and their goals in Q1
  • Establish division of labor with customer success and modernization teams in Q2
  • Refine delivery process and its reporting in Q3

Contribute to the globalization of our products

This will require us to

  • Work with [person] to establish requirements around commonly-localized data formats, ongoing
  • Document commonly-localized data formats in the pattern library, ongoing
  • Establish, with he help of engineering, a format and process to manage microcopy (so that it is catalogued, available for translation, investable by engineering, and standardized) and by the end of the year