Five Signs Your Product Team
Is More Capable Than You Think

By NICK EVANS

There are lots of places you can go to hear about the obvious signals of a capable product team, a product that goes from idea to unicorn in a matter of a few years, or one that revolutionises an area and disrupts incumbents. But what about the not-so-obvious signals that indicate you’re operating with a capable team?

Humans are conditioned to look for negatives and things that might be missing. This positive-negative asymmetry can damage relationships and make it harder to generate trust and empower teams.

So, the next time you catch yourself thinking about the things you wish you had, take a second look and see if you can spot the following:

Your New Employees Hit The Ground Running

Good product managers know what good product management looks like regardless of their domain. They bring a set of tools with them that traverse multiple industries and product types.

They can deliver value almost immediately by getting in front of customers and teasing out pain points and opportunities. In parallel, good product managers will simultaneously work to develop a deeper understanding of their new domain to deliver more value sooner.

Your Team Is Actively Chasing & Sharing New Knowledge

The best teams never stop being students.

The very best teams might even embed a culture of coaching through a formalised product coach role. But creating a culture of coaching and learning through a formalised role isn’t the only way to know if you’ve got a great product team on your hands.

Great product teams
proactively share learnings.

They might post about a new research technique they used via Slack or Teams, or they might share a link to a blog from a product leader and go that step further with insights about how they’ve adapted this guidance in their day-to-day work.

Furthermore, great product organisations create the space to nurture this culture. That goes beyond ‘brown bag’ or ‘lunch & learn’ sessions; it’s about facilitated learning through structure and investment.

They Consistently Run Effective & Valuable Meetings

Remember that meeting where you walked out thinking, “Wow, that was both efficient and effective. I wish all meetings could be like that!”?

Well, good product teams run their meetings this way!

And it’s not just that a good meeting equals a capable team; the hidden signal is that good product teams know their time is precious.

As a product manager, there are almost endless activities you could be doing to manage the entire lifecycle of your products effectively. Meetings may be necessary, but they must also be optimised and distilled down to their most valuable components.

When you see a product manager run meetings with this mindset, you’ll know they’re maximising meetings for value.

They Smile When Things Seem Impossible

Good product teams love it when things are broken.

Good product teams get a little excited at the prospect of tackling a really tough problem. They see their best value add is often taking the most broken core customer experience in a product and maximising its value (or maybe even removing it altogether).

They don’t shy away from a big, difficult, valuable problem to look for something smaller and easier. Good product managers love using their empathy to step into their customers’ shoes and solve real problems that make a TRUE difference for customers and for the organisation.

So, when things don’t seem to be going your way, and the molehill to climb has turned into a mountain, but your product team are as motivated as ever, you’ll know you’re onto a good thing.

Talking To Customers Is ALWAYS In Their Job Description

It’s so easy to make speaking with customers someone else’s job, but the best product teams and leaders know that no amount of translation or summarising can replace engaging with real customers.

Having the whole product team regularly and actively engaging with customers has an outsized impact on the success of your products and business.

When product teams and leaders spend time with customers, they make better decisions, understand the REAL value and impact to customers of what is being built, and avoid falling into all the traps of thinking you “know your customers, because you are your customers”.

 

If you’re now looking at your product team and noticing the above signs, then you’ll be happy to know that they’re quietly achieving more than you realised, and you’re in a really good position for future success.

About The Author

Nick Evans

Senior Product Consultant - Brainmates

Nick has a wealth of experience in finance, product management, CRM & digital tech strategy. Nick is passionate about growth hacking and disruption, and is an active member of the start-up ecosystem through his work as an Angel Investor. Nick refers to his experience in finance as helping him create a bias for action and grounding him in data-driven decision-making.

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