Background: So a large part of my work requires graphic design, as a front end designer I keep up with the trends and generally like to produce work that feels trendy. In my current job most of my colleagues including my main boss share my taste and like it when I produce work that feels current.

Issue: My line manger doesn't share my vision and has completely different taste and vision to others, as a result when a request comes in form an internal stakeholder I produce some work that they typically like (if they see it later) but my line manger sees it before its delivered she insists on making changes to suit her vision, as a result my designs don't look very coherent and well put-together which effects my credibility.

Further: I work in a technology company that has well designed and modern brand guidelines, that involve a lot of line icons gradients and bright colours, My line manager prefers designs that are more classical and homely but completely off for our brand.

  • 2
    Have you discussed your vision with your line manager? Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 12:27
  • @WorkerDrone Yes somewhat but we never arrive at a conclusion I try to remain respectful and say why using bright colours etc is good but usually she dismisses my points and says that her way is better. Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 12:30
  • 4
    It's usually good to listen to the decision-maker and boss. If you can't convince her that your vision is better, then you must design to meet her vision. Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 13:00
  • 2
    Is the client happy with the result?
    – rath
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 13:52
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Implementing something your boss has asked for, even if it's potentially a bad idea
    – Chris E
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 14:14

3 Answers 3


There is a balance to be struck here.

In general it's your line manager's responsibility to set the direction of your work, especially when it comes to over all style. It's OK to disagree with your line manager, and even to persuade him to do things differently, but if he really wants things done a certain way, then the bottom line is it's your job to do things that way. Setting a style is not micromanaging.

The balancing point is that your internal stakeholders like your work. That's good for you, and keeping your customers happy (even if they are internal customers) is also important. You can take that to you line manager in the hope that he will let you do things a little more your way.

Also be aware that internal customers are not always the final arbiters of what is good. They may love a piece of work you have done, but it might have to fit with a corporate style that is trying to present a coherent picture of the company. It's possible that your line manager is aware of constraints on your work that you aren't. It's also possible that your line manager needs to make sure your department has a coherent style, no matter who is producing the wor5k.

Bottom line: go talk to your line manager about this. Talk about your difference in style, and explain how happy your customers are. Ask if there is a reason for his style choices. You can keep trying to change his mind, but in the end your boss is your boss, and you should do the work he asks.


My line manger doesn't share my vision


my main boss share my taste

You seem to have an idea that your line manager is not your main boss.

In almost all the cases I know of, the line manager is the boss. Period. There is no such thing called main boss. The "main boss" you talked about may be your boss' boss. But, your line manager is still your boss.

Rule #1: follow your boss' instruction. She is the one who has the command. She is the one deciding your pay raise and promotion. She is the one who is responsible for the product you'll deliver. She is the one making the call.

I hope you get my message. Do what your boss says. Or, quit/transfer your job. Your choice.

  • This answer is a bit too confrontational. I'm sure there is room for collaboration without coming off as attempting power-plays.
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 15:34
  • 1
    Are there other bosses who report to the "main boss," who I assume means your (Lukas') direct supervisor's boss? scaaahu is wrong, in that both of those people are your boss, but, yes, your "main" one is your direct supervisor. You may want to talk to your boss about transferring to another direct supervisor, if there is one. Clearly she is aware that there is a mismatch in overall vision. Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 16:17
  • This assumes a lot. I've worked in an organisation where senior developers were the bosses as far as technical issues were concerned, the manager was boss as far as resource management, coaching etc was concerned, and I worked in projects and the project leader had the actual final say about my work for his project. Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 11:24

You are the designer. It is your responsibility to produce good work, and two core parts of that are pleasing your (internal) customer and being consistent with the rest of your product. Your manager can make suggestions, since they are there to help you succeed.

But if they tell you how to accomplish your work they are, by definition, micromanaging you.

I'm afraid I can't offer concrete suggestions about how to solve that problem, since different scenarios require different approaches. In some places, you can just ignore the manager and as long as you do good work (and have the support of your team/customers) it'll have minimal impact. In some places, you can work with your grandboss to coach up your manager, or to get them fired. In some places, you can talk to your manager and get them to understand that they aren't an individual contributor anymore - they need to focus on doing their job. In some places, you can have a conversation with your manager about why you approach the problem differently so that you both better understand the context of the suggestions and come to a middle ground better than both of you could alone...

And in some places, you're just fucked. If you follow the manager's wishes, you produce sub-par work, which gets people displeased with you, which gets you fired as the poor manager throws you under the bus. If you don't follow the manager's wishes, you produce good enough work, but they still blame you for things being late/weird/bad and eventually find an excuse to fire you or otherwise drive you out of the company.

But I would encourage you to take more ownership of your work. Your manager isn't there to tell you how to do it - they're there to remove impediments so that you can produce the best work you can.

  • 1
    "Your manager isn't there to tell you how to do it - they're there to remove impediments so that you can produce the best work you can." - Oh yes they are. The end goal of work is to do what you're told. Your boss gets told what to do, and they tell you what to do. It's very rare people get creative power in the workplace and even if they do it is "owned" by the company you work. Chances are even with creative power, your boss will take ownership and praises for allowing such things.
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 17:21
  • @dan - yes, your boss gets to tell you what to do. They do not get to tell you how to do it.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 17:24
  • 1
    I have to disagree. A boss can tell you what they want and how they want it done. Right down to the exact format, tools, or method to get the job done in a way that he requires, and perhaps the company. He may have gotten very specific instructions and do not need to hear it from his subordinates. If you disagree with your boss the best course is to state your point and if you feel wronged then the best course of action is to find a new position.
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:30
  • 1
    @Telastyn 'What you do' is the finished output, which is what the boss here is specifying. Nowhere do I see the line manager interfering with the process of how to get there. Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:59
  • @DJClayworth: Depends on what is specified. Is the specification "create a design that the users like", or "create a design as follows: X, Y, Z". In the first case, the manager would be interfering. In the second case, the manager should take full responsibility if people don't like the end result.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 18:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .