- Management advice
Ed Biden is the Chief Product Officer at Hustle Badger, an e-learning provider for Product Managers in the tech industry. They’re on a mission to provide people in the tech industry with the skills they need to succeed. Starting with Product Managers, but shortly expanding to other disciplines.
Ed has over 12 years experience as a Founder, Product Manager/Director and CPO (to name a few). He dedicates his LinkedIn to providing key insights and thought-provoking tips for Business Leaders managing Product Teams. The success of any business relies on the relationship between the sales teams, leaders and creatives in the business. This isn’t always the case as time management, priorities and conflicting plans get lost in translation. In this post, Ed discusses how to create a great environment for Product Teams, and the blockers that hinder productivity…
Not seeing the results from your Product Team?
CEO: “We need to replace our entire product team”
Me: “Um, ok, let’s talk about this for a moment…”
As a Chief Product Officer and Product Advisor I’ve met plenty of CEOs and executives who are frustrated with the results they see from their Product Teams.
Often they feel like all they need to do is replace the existing team with more experienced, “better” Product Managers. But really they’re blaming them for some of their own shortcomings as leaders.
Results from a Product Team depend on putting great Product Managers in a great environment. If you don’t have a great environment, it doesn’t matter how good your Product Managers are, you’ll still be disappointed with the results.
Maybe your Product Managers really are awful, but before you fire them all and hire new ones, I’d make sure you fix the environment:
a) It’s much faster, cheaper and less painful
b) You’ll have to do it anyway
c) You’ll be surprised by what you can get from your existing team
So, how do you create a great environment for Product Managers as a leader?
Have consistent goals
Of course you want to be agile, but try not to change the priorities all the time. Every quarter is ok, but every week or two and your teams will never get going.
Progress is inversely correlated to the number of initiatives you have. Make sure your teams aren’t getting distracted by executives’ pet projects, internal requests or customer feedback. Have a very small (1-2) number of priorities for them to focus on.
Explain the context
Spend the time up front to explain your goals and the features you’re asking for. If all you’re doing is demanding widgets from your product team, likely they’ll have a very different idea from you of what they are building and why.
Talk about the money
You can’t expect your Product Managers to make commercial decisions if they don’t have visibility of the business financials. Make this a part of every discussion (but just a part – it’s not everything!).
Be explicit where you will take risk
Teams are usually quite conservative when it comes to risk, because when the site goes down they get blamed. If you want to move quickly, be very clear about the risks that you are willing to take.
Manage their role breadth
Product Managers can be excellent at lots of things – communications, analysis, delivery, user interviews… pretty much whatever you need them to, but they can’t do it all at the same time – there are only so many hours in the day. Make sure tasks are split evenly across design, engineering and data.
Agree a lightweight reporting process
As a leader you need status updates. To fly blind would be reckless. But bloated reporting burns many hours each week. Take 1-2 hours up front to co-create a reporting process with your Product Managers (i.e. tell them what you really need, and let them figure out the best way to deliver it) and you’ll save them huge amounts of time going forward.
And if there’s anything I can do to help, give me a shout. We’ve got lots of tools on Hustle Badger to accelerate product teams, and I offer private workshops and advice.