What Dev Teams need from Product Managers – Product Camp 2016 Wrap-up

What do dev teams need from their product managers? Product and Tech work very closely with each other but not always very well.

Daniel Kinal, Senior Product Manager at MYOB, talked about how we can improve that working relationship.

Building trust with your team members is a big one. They need to trust you as well as you trust them. Having that trust helps your team work more effectively and autonomously.

The HR people at Google put a diagram together after doing some investigation into what makes a Google team effective and Daniel suggested that, as product managers, we should look at how we can contribute to all 5 of these elements as, not only do they help build trust, but they also directly help developers build better products more efficiently.

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The HR team determined that there are five key dimensions that make successful teams stand out at Google:

  • Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  • Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
  • Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  • Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  • Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

A discussion with the wider group talked about how product managers can directly affect each of these areas. We are particularly well suited to helping with the last 3 as we can translate the strategic and tactical reasons for our development efforts to our team and also articulate the customer benefits. That said, it is also incredibly valuable to let developers view customer behaviour (e.g. through viewing UX testing sessions) to see how their handiwork impacts users directly.

How can you build trust?

  • Share the vision! Tech teams need to know where the product is headed in order to be thinking of the future when developing
  • Be transparent! Let them know if there’s an issue. They might be able to help or at least now know why X is like that.
  • Connect them to customers! NOTHING is better than seeing someone using the code you wrote to understand what works & what doesn’t. Understanding the customer’s problem before they even write a single line of code will also aid in development.

Daniel Kinal - What do development teams need from their Product Managers

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