Hot Tips is a collection of candid advice by and for product people.
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Rallying your team around the product is not an easy task, especially when some people are skeptical about what you're building. How do you get them on board?
I think the first thing to tackle is the reason why your team isn't on board by listening to their concerns. Ask yourself:
In my experience at The Guardian and Made by Many, bringing the team along for the ride is a sure-fire way of getting them on board. Encouraging them to be involved in the end-to-end process of discovering and delivering a great product has worked well for me. You can start by running a goal-setting workshop before any work begin. It's a great way to get started on the right foot with everyone understanding the direction of travel and the reasons for it.
Ideation, prototyping and user interviews are all things that the whole team should be invited to participate in as they help everyone gain an understanding of user needs and the kinds of problems their work will be solving.
If you're already part-way through a delivery phase and the team isn't on board I have found that reminding people of what we’ve learned (show them the evidence!) and what we're trying to achieve and why can be helpful. I often display that information on a physical board so that it can be referred to at any time if my team is feeling nervous about the work we’re doing.
All of this assumes that as a Product Manager, you have made sound decisions. It's worth remembering that you're only human and sometimes your team has good reason to question what you're doing, and that is no bad thing!
If your dad doesn’t want to try kitesurfing, you need to understand his fears. His fears might not be what you might expect. You think he is afraid of breaking his back, but he simply doesn’t want to look fat in a surfing one piece.
To be able to encourage others, you need to first understand their objections.
Figure out what exactly your team sees as problematic. They might fear the deadline is too soon, and feel stressed. They might not see the connection between the plan and the product vision. Or, they just don’t understand the plan.
Remember: each person might have a different objection. To prevent crowd think, it could be a good idea to elicit their arguments individually, rather than in a bigger meeting.
Once you know all the problems, it’s easier to address them.
At any point of this process it can turn out the team really has more wisdom than you do. After all, you work with clever people. Be ready to exercise humility and to adjust your original plan.
The first thing would be talk to them to understand why they don't believe the product makes sense, and see if you were missing something important, or you'd not communicated the customer data sufficiently.
If the former, you may need to change the product, if the latter you may need to set a session to talk through what customers are experiencing and feeling with the team, and then make sure this gets back them on a regular basis thereafter. Perhaps even get some of your dev or design team to meet with customers so they can verify the need for the product first hand.
Tell the story from the users' perspective. Get video of interviews, do surveys, get quantitative data. If that doesn't convince the team, question whether it's the right thing to build.