5 Essentials of Happy Design Teams

Published by Lisa Vissichelli on

Now what? You’ve hired and onboarded your design team…

Essentials for Happy Designers
5 Essentials for Happy Designers

You’ve made it in your industry and have become a coveted ‘design leader’. Congratulations! Its exciting to develop a design team and set it up for success for the current organizational needs. And then a few years pass and then what? Eventually one team member will ask “What is the next step in my career?” or “How can I continue to grow”. A design marketplace challenge is we want a feeling of growth and accomplishment, but there is a limit to upward growth for designers in the workplace. How do we build happy design teams from the start? How do we maintain a design team with long-lasting retention.

Managers are challenged by because finding reliable talent is challenging. For niche or nuanced work training is an investment and valuing designers willing to develop themselves is better for long term company growth. As Marcus Buckingham, says in ‘First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently “In most cases, no matter what it is, if you measure it and reward it, people will try to excel at it” So how do we keep creatives happy? Especially if it benefits everyone?

These are the 5 pillars for building happy design teams


Have clear guidelines. Designers prefer structure around their role, their work and how they assess quality.

Building Blocks:

Designers need good tools, tech and resources to do their best work.


Designers need security to have trust in their work and abilities. By having access to strong management and regular updates on organizational updates, its easier to empower designers to voice what they need.


Successful design teams are constantly sharpening their tools and K-base. Offering incentives to grow skillsets or internally train will help the whole team level up.


This can come in the shape of internal workshopping or going to conferences. Collaboration experiences also boosts team morale and builds relationships.

These pillar are key to keeping a balanced design team. Here are some key questions to ask yourself to understand how developed each pillar is:

  • Overall: Have you met with your design team to uncover if all 5 pillars are being met?
  • Guides: Do you have a clear best practices of how quality and time are balanced in the design process?
  • Support: Is leadership involved in developing budget or opportunities to recognize creative talent?
  • Growth: Are there resources available to enrich the growing design knowledge base and toolkit?
  • Inspiration: Are you as a manager building time and opportunities in to encourage inspirational moments?

Categories: Leadership

Lisa Vissichelli

Transforming research deliverables into editorial infographics is my focus. I have lead designers and researchers in understanding design thinking, strategizing innovative design concepts, and shaping brand development in market research firms since 2013. Currently I am the Head of Visual Design at AnswerLab, where we help create experiences people love, Partnering with global brands to bring a human-centered design process to every product they launch. Through my work at AnswerLab, Sachs Insights(Creative Director), MITEF Enterprise Forum, and RelPro, I contributed to many projects across multiple platforms. My infographic work has been showcased in the Information is Beautiful Awards from 2015-2017 and I am the 2017 winner of the Adobe Creative Jam NYC.