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10 tips to drive product teams in 2022
The new year is well underway. And by this time, many people’s New Year’s resolutions are well out of mind.
But we don’t want that to happen to you. So we put together a list of 10 New Year’s resolutions web-olutions to help you stay tuned into the goals you’ve set for yourself, and the goals you may have forgotten to put on your list.
Prioritizing product roadmaps, building trust with your team, and overcoming the biggest and baddest product obstacles. This, plus plenty more.
So grab your notebook and let’s make sure this year counts.
Last updated11 Feb 2022
10 tips for product teams
Tip 1: take care of team comms
Dear Slack, thank you. And damn you.
Then add email, Docs, Drive folders, Asana pings, Jira threads, and non-stop Zoom calls and Google Meets. And maybe, just maybe, throw in a real live face-to-face meeting.
You get it, we’re all overloaded with comms. So be nice to the people in your team. Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Share, but don’t overload. Sometimes the best way to show them you care is to not share. Be selective. Double-check that message to make sure every sentence is relevant.
Ask for feedback. Are you communicating in ways that are effective? Do others on your team have ideas for how to improve things? Have you asked? You should. And make sure you listen to what they say.
Make digestible summaries. Whether it’s meeting notes or customer satisfaction reports, keep it brief and clear. Organize info by topics (like Product, QA, UX, Design) and action points (summary, concerns, next steps). And highlight the key takeaways so people can grab the gist without digesting the whole doc. Help people understand how product goals fit into their team's goals.
We know you already know these things. Right? Put them into practice, and your team will thank you for it.
Tip 2: balance your team workload
“You’ve got a customer interview today at 2pm.”
“Have you got that wireframe ready for review?”
“Don’t forget to prepare for the workshop tomorrow!”
Sound familiar? There’s always more to do than people, or time, to get it done. That is, if you’re trying to do everything that pops into mind. Trying to distribute every single one of those great ideas to a stakeholder is a good way to burn out your team.
Instead, try this to reduce the load:
Separate the urgent from the important. Just because someone just Slacked you with: “Sorry, I forgot to mention: can you get this done by the end of today?!” doesn’t mean it’s the most important thing for you to be working on. Don’t be a Product Management Wolf.
Use a classic Value vs Effort Matrix. Find those High Value / Low Effort projects for quick wins. And stay far away from the Low Value projects that look like quick wins, but don’t add much to what matters.
Let user data lead the way. You’ve got great intuition, and sometimes that’s useful. It comes with learning through experience. But that’s not the way to plan your day. Start with the data: what your customers need, and what drives the business forward. Don’t be a Product Management Zebra.
If you need more help on project prioritization, have a look at how Hotjar’s Product teams prioritize what to work on next.
Tip 3: create more stand-out ideas
It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing. Rather than come up with something new, you follow the status quo. That other product did it that way, so why don’t we do the same.
There are a lot of best practices that you’d be foolish not to follow—one of those is starting with customer feedback. But sometimes you need to slice open a new tamale. Keep these things in mind when searching for that next big idea:
Use your team. You’ve got a lot of good ideas in your head. And the rest of your team does too. Remember that the best ideas come from collaboration.
Make space for casual brainstorming. Remember that time when your colleague asked for a brilliant idea right now, and you shouted out that game-changing feature? Probably not. Good idea sessions need space and structure. Try out Crazy 8’s and How Might We’s for some inspiration.
Listen to your customers. Sometimes the biggest bets lie in the incremental improvement of smaller details that people really care about. Your customers can be some of your best brainstormers here. And you can create unique products by listening to them, building, and iterating.
However you find your stand-out ideas, make sure you take time to do so. You might find that Eureka! moment in the bathtub, or maybe an apple will hit you in the head. But if not, remember you’ve got your team and customers there with you too.
Tip 4: encourage continuous learning
In the product world, things change fast. There’s always a new tactic to try or tool to test. Are you keeping up?
A successful product person is a knowledgeable one. Here’s how to stay on the pulse:
Build a culture of continuous learning. Read something interesting? Share it with your colleagues, along with a reason for why you think it matters. Create a wiki page to list great blogs, articles, or workshop notes. If you lead a team, allow some L&D budget for people to keep their minds moving forward.
Hold monthly sharing sessions. News, trends, tools, techniques, case studies—it should be relevant to your team, but keep the format open. Let people share whatever they thought was the most interesting or useful thing they’ve seen lately. And rotate presenters so everyone is encouraged to share.
Focus. Spend most of your time seeking news on the specific technologies related to your product or user base. But save a little time for outside-the-norm topics too—it can help with Tip 3.
Warning: just because a news article called it a “trend” doesn’t mean you should drop everything and do it. See Tip 2.
Tip 5: collect reliable customer satisfaction data
How did your customers react to that last product release? If it was positive, nice work. If it was less than stellar, find out why and don’t repeat. If you don’t know, you’ve got some work to do.
Everything you are doing is for your customers. It’s not for that raise you’re hoping to get. It’s not to increase revenue for the company. Sure, you want those things too, and they’ll come when you focus on your customer first.
Here’s how to find out what they think:
Measure customer satisfaction with quantitative tools. Putting a number on customer satisfaction makes it easier to see how it changes over time.
Integrate customer satisfaction feedback into your product and website. Yes, we have a tool to help. It helps remove friction and makes it easy for people to give you feedback on the go. Here’s a Customer satisfaction survey template to get you started.
Use Incoming Feedback tools. This helps you discover how satisfied users are while they’re engaging with your product to get a real sense of what they’re feeling.
Without an accurate gauge of how your customers are feeling, your product decisions are just shots in the dark. Make customer satisfaction your North Star, all year ‘round.
Tip 6: meet your deadlines
Have you ever worked in a team or company where every new release would have to wait until the next sprint? Sometimes there are good reasons to delay, but it shouldn’t be the norm.
Try these things to keep projects on track:
Make roadmaps lean and agile. Plan for your team to execute in sprints, and schedule in review time. Keep an eye on scope creep. And have one source of truth tool to keep everyone on track.
Clear your space and mind. If your Chrome tabs number anything like mine, you need to close them down. And turn off those notifications—how can anyone get things done with all those bells and pop-ups?
Communicate all delays. If something is behind schedule, let people know as soon as possible. And don’t forget to tell your team why it’s happening, so you can take steps to avoid it next time.
P.S. You prove you’re working by delivering on time, not by being the first to respond on Slack. Encourage your team, and yourself, to shut down the non-stop messaging so people can concentrate.
Tip 7: lead with empathy, add in compassion
It’s worth repeating: You are building for your customers. You’ve got to sit in their skin, look from their eyes, feel their pains.
And nothing gets off the ground without your team. Understand that they are people too with their own challenges, backlog of tasks, and bad days. A few reminders:
Know your team. Identify each team member's goals, needs, and challenges. Learn what makes them tick, how they like to interact, and when it’s best to back off.
Give clear, shared objectives. When objectives are shared, you’re all working in the same direction. Different roles, viewpoints, and skills can pull your team in different directions. A unified vision helps align the differences.
Let people know why they matter. Show each person how their work contributes to the whole. And make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
Empathy is what glues it all together—customer desires, smooth teamwork, and ultimately company outcomes.
Tip 8: learn from every department
Ever felt stuck in a silo? You’re working on this, that team is working on that, the other department has their thing. But at the end of the day, you’re all working toward the same thing: a better product that people actually need love.
And those other teams and departments can be an incredible source of intel:
Your Sales Team: They speak to decision makers and hear their concerns and objections. Some of these should probably end up on your product roadmap.
Your Support Team: They are constantly hearing the joys and pains of your customers. Their tickets can be a goldmine, and the feedback they receive is for you.
Your Marketing Team: They know your customer, and they’re watching what features and solutions people click on your website. They can help you understand what sets your product apart.
It takes a community to raise a healthy product that can survive a world full of competition. You’ve got that community all around. Talk to them.
Tip 9: prioritize decisions with IMPACT
Back up in Tip 2, we touched on the importance of focus, and the need to prioritize. From our own experience we know how challenging this can be.
So here’s another set of questions to help you think through your options:
I – Interesting: Does this address the things our customers care about?
M – Meaningful: Are we providing real value to our users?
P – People: Who is impacted by this?
A – Actionable: Are we coming up with ideas that can be realized?
C – Clear: Do we truly understand what we’re trying to do?
T – Testable: Can you try things out before committing?
Remember IMPACT. That’s what you’re after, right?
Tip 10: practice more self-care
This one is about you. Really, you. If you’re not feeling your best, you won’t bring your best. And the team meeting, the user feedback session, and the prototype you’re working on won’t be what they could be.
But it’s more than that. You’re not just someone who cares about making great products. You’re a human being. And humans have off days, need down time, and deal with a lot of other life stuff outside of the office.
So look after yourself, and allow time to recharge your batteries. If you lead a team, review Tip 7. And then lead by example by taking care of yourself. Set boundaries for you and your team.
It’s not about slacking off or wasting time. It’s about creating the space you need to do your best work. So take a long, deep breath. Feeling better?
Now go out and build something your customers will thank you for.
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