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6 Ways Agoda Designers Take to Break Down Barriers to Impact

By Paweena Prachanronarong - Published on Jan 29. 2020

In the nearly three years that I’ve been here, the design team has grown from about 20 designers to close to 50, comprised of 10 different nationalities. Because of the rapid growth within the team, our primary metric for success is now our ‘impact’.

Impact first and foremost is about driving the product forward. But impact is also about helping and sharing knowledge with others and being part of a conversation driven by a desire to make things better for you and those around you. And the result of that? Personal growth, a positive culture and a more efficient workplace.

This may all sound simple enough but sometimes there are cultural or other personal barriers which make it more challenging to make an impact. Here’s what Agoda’s designers did to overcome their barriers:

Redefine your boundaries

Pang is Thai, and being considerate and respectful of people that are more senior than her is deeply ingrained in Thai culture. When Pang first started working at Agoda, she struggled with this because she was afraid of standing out and doing something disrespectful to her seniors. Through conversations with her manager, she has learned to redefine what being “considerate” is. She learned that you can still be considerate while speaking freely and sharing ideas, as is encouraged in Agoda’s culture.

Learn the cultural norms

In Israel, where Nahum is from, it’s very common for people to be more direct and to-the-point in day-to-day communication. However, after working in Thailand for many years, Nahum has learned how to adjust his communication style to avoid sounding too aggressive. Communicating in this manner allows Nahum’s messages to be received in a more positive way.

Anticipate questions and conversations

Although Joshua feels more confident in the art of persuasion in his native language, he needs to prepare more to sell ideas to stakeholders in English. He uses a structural thinking framework to present big questions to the stakeholders before showing his designs. By doing so, Joshua is not only able to drive the conversation around design, but can also anticipate questions so that he can answer them as quickly as he could in his native language.

Be comfortable first

Ali isn’t always comfortable giving feedback in meetings, so she starts with giving feedback to people that she knows. Once she has made her impact with people she’s comfortable with, she pushes herself to give feedback in less comfortable environments.

Ask questions

When Brady first started working, she held herself back from asking questions. Eventually, she got over her fears and practiced throwing out different types of questions. Now as a Senior UX Designer, Brady always asks her colleagues if they have any questions because she wants to encourage people to feel comfortable asking questions.

Start small, go bigger

Like many people, Liya wasn’t always confident when presenting in front of a large audience. She would write a script that would serve as the story for her presentation and then practice on her own until she memorized the script. For other designers who are still building their presentation skills, Liya suggests using weekly meetings as an opportunity to practice public speaking. If a message needs to reach 50+ designers, break the group down by presenting to smaller clusters first. This will also build confidence as one familiarizes themselves more with the content.

I don’t believe that people have to change who they are in order to make an impact and be successful in the workplace. But I do believe that in order to grow, we need to get out of our comfort zones. Whether that means reaching out to people, communicating in a different manner, initiating a product-driven project, or even stating what you want and don’t want.

 

If we as an organization can support and celebrate all that makes our diverse culture so unique, I believe that we can lead the way into a new era of inclusion in the workplace. And the result of that? An organization that continues to impact others – in a more multi-dimensional way.

Paweena Prachanronarong is Senior UX Designer at Agoda. To read the full article on her LinkedIn account, click here.

If you’re passionate about design and looking for an opportunity to make an impact, apply to join our design team!


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