Different companies have very different team cultures. And finding the right rhythm is crucial to the success of your team and your company. Product managers and leaders need to have a plan in place to drive growth in their teams. So, how do you bring out the best practices to forge a strong culture for your team? Microsoft Health AI Product Lead Arun Ravi shares insights on how to create the right team to drive success in your company.

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On how to create the right team through empathy

Empathy is an extremely powerful business tool that increases retention, drives innovation, and supports employees’ well-being. A massive part of product management is collaboration. And empathy helps everyone understand each other’s perspectives. A team rooted in empathy is more likely to stick around when the going gets tough. Check out how empathy can help you create the right team:

“Empathy. It goes long way. And it really helps show the team that even if you make the wrong decisions, and you will make wrong decisions, you all understood each other, and you were willing to fight for each other. Or, fight with each other in order to create the right product.”

“You always say your doors will always open, but is it really open? Are you really there? Are you really able to drop everything to help? Maybe a member of your team has a personal issue. You just don’t know. How do you support your team in a way that they’re willing to go through some of the difficult situations with you?” 

“As a product leader, listening is truly key, irrespective of your stakeholders.”

On the right tools to create the right team

Product managers and leaders need to be critical of the decisions they make. They must understand exactly how each step in the process affects the team and the product. A huge part of how you create the right team is through company culture. Teams need balance, time to consolidate feedback, time to listen to the customers, and time to think. These are some of the tools Arun used to create the right team:  

“It’s important for you to take a step back and actually be critical of what you’re doing to make sure it’s the right movement for the team. Finding a team rhythm, without forcing them on processes, is key.”

“You can define your culture. Maybe you are in a company that has a very strong culture set in some ways, but you can really kind of define it. You may be able to adapt it for your team where they can still be effective within the general framework of what their company does.” 

“Always high performing is impossible. You need to have balance, you need to have time to consolidate feedback, really listen to your customers, and you need time to think.”

On leadership

Much like the captain of a ship, product managers are responsible for successfully navigating the waters of their product. Each crew member and each team depends on you to set the course and wade through the tides. To create the right team, product managers need to know how to lead. And leadership is not always about throwing down demands. Sometimes, it is about trusting your team. Here is what Arun had to say about how to create the right team through good leadership:

“You have to navigate the ship. It’s up to you to read the wind, see what’s going on, see what the tide is, and really navigate that ship based on the things that come to you.” 

“You have to give your team the flexibility to push back. You’re not always right.”

“You will be very surprised at how much people across engineering, science, design, whatever it is, depend on the product team to define [the goals.]”

“It is very important to have your stake in the ground. You know what you’re doing, and you can align with the different groups.  It’s extremely important that you take the time and effort to think this through and figure out what the goal is.”

On the growth mindset

Failure can either be seen as an ending or an opportunity to grow. When you have a growth mindset, no matter the setback or challenge, you are focused on the best possible outcomes. In order to create the right teams, product managers need to establish a growth mindset. Each team member needs to have the same perception of failure and setbacks. They are opportunities. This is why the growth mindset is important for creating the right team: 

“As a team, and as a leader, you always have to be learning. It’s not about how many books you’ve read in a month. There is no kind of metrics around that. But, are you learning something new that helps you impact your job?” 

“I actually like people who don’t have healthcare experience coming into healthcare because there’s a lot to learn. And if they show the aptitude to do that, you found a winner.”

“You must be able to deal with failure, figure out what you learned from that situation, and then use that in your next iteration.”

About the speaker
ARUN RAVI Microsoft Health & Life sciences AI, Principal PM Manager Member
About the host
Maheep Bhalla AT&T, Product Management Lead

Maheep is a customer-focused Product Leader. He believes that a Product Manager wears multiple hats but should always champion the voice of the customer.

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