8 Steps to Establish and Grow a Successful Product Team

Building and Maintaining a Product Team and Overcoming Hurdles

August 26, 2019

Before you can develop your product from the point of inception through the various stages of product development to implementation, you will have to build a product team. As a product manager, it is essential that you understand the full value of product management before you start building your team. The ultimate goal of Product Management is to optimize the business at the product portfolio level over the lifecycle of the products. A product team should be able to deliver measurable business results through product solutions that are relevant to the target market and meet the company goals.

Given the critical role of product management, having a scalable and appropriately motivated team is vital to the success of the product.

Below follows a practical approach to building a great product team.

Establishing a team

For people to work together towards a certain goal, they need to have a sense of unity and alignment on the team. In your product management role, you can follow these tactics;

1. Optimize for employee happiness

Everyone enjoys working in a sustainable environment. So the tools, the process of product development, and the environment should be optimized for employee happiness over revenue.

2. Facilitate team building

A team should operate as a cohesive unit. It is the role of the product manager to incorporate motivational strategies and ensure trust is built amongst the team members. You can set up team-building social events or schedule some team calls.

3. Create a shared product vision

When a team feels they own the product, they will strive towards seeing its success. At early stages of product inception, involve the team in the process of developing the roadmap for the product so that they may have a shared ownership of the product direction.

4. Ensure other executive members in the organization understand the value of product management.

Your product is bound to grow, and you will have to scale your product team, but without the support and trust of other executives in your organization, it will be tough. You can set up meetings with the key players across the company. Discuss, listen and understand their views on the product team, let them understand why it is essential for you to scale it. This will foster trust and the internal support to grow your team.

5. Do not just be a manager

A product team needs a leader, a mentor, and a coach who works hand in hand with them towards the success of the product.

Growing your Product Team

Once you have implemented a strong team foundation, it is time to scale up the team. For the success of the product, you need to invest in the best talent. Hiring well is hard, but crucial to your success. Here are three best hiring practices you can emulate;

1. It takes time

You want to hire ‘A+ players’ to join your team, right? You will have to invest just enough time in recruiting, interviewing and onboarding.

2. Leverage executive members from different areas of the organization to interview the candidates;

Product teams need culture and system-fit members. To get the right members, you will need engineering leads, financial managers, fellow product managers and other officials on the interviewing panel to help make the right decision.

3. Clearly identify your target candidates and focus on them

During the recruiting process, you might meet candidates who have skills close to what you are looking for, be patient and wait for the right fit.

Some problems you are likely to face as you grow your team:

1. Lack of or insufficient resources

2. The ability to impact change on your team

3. Lack of domain knowledge

4. Ability to work across the different parts of the organization

5. Scalability due to size restrictions of the organizations

You can tackle all of these if you have the trust and full support of the executives and cross-functional leaders. How to do this? Sell the value of product management internally to the key players in the organization as we discussed earlier.

Structuring a Product Team for Success

This simply means, structuring the Product Team to achieve set goals. A product team without the right number of team members will find it impossible to reach the set target. For example, if a software system with ten modules needs to be built in a month, and you have five developers working one module a month, they will not be able to meet the set deadline.

Additionally, if the product needs sales and marketing, and you are relying on your developers and designers, who most probably lack marketing skills, to make the sales, your product will flop.

The above scenarios imply that both the size of the team and the roles played by each member are critical to the success of the product. Factoring numbers and differentiated roles as you build your product team is important — ensure your product team is structured to reach its goals. The goals, the type of company, and the product being implemented vary, so put everything into consideration.

To sum up, building and growing a product team is a daunting task. In your crucial role as a product manager, you need to unify your team. Ensure your organization understands the value of product management, foster trust in the executives so that they can support you to grow your team and optimize your product management. For the success of your product, incorporate differentiated roles and hire the best talent for your team.

-Ravi Patel, COO AD/FIN

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