Build a practice of active engagement in regular meetings to share updates, questions, and issues. Keep the momentum and conversations going by following these consistent practices across multiple levels of the organization. In this editorial, ZEFR Product Lead Bharat Manglani offers advice to product teams for building strong lines of communication.
As a Product team expands and onboards team members, the team’s overall personality will also change. Each member brings new perspectives, strengths, and dispositions. Enable each teammate to thrive by forging strong and consistent lines of communication.
Especially in a remote work environment, strong lines of communication are critical to keep everyone feeling equally well-connected. And when in doubt, overcommunicate. Don’t assume everybody got the message, even if you’ve already said it a few times. Strong communication means that team members understand the ‘why’ and feel both inspired and empowered to get down to work.
Effective one on ones
The foundation of strong product team communication begins with effective one on ones with the team’s manager. This time is critical for building and fostering close bonds between managers and direct reports. These sessions are valuable opportunities for PMs to discuss the most pressing items from their purview. Allow each individual the freedom to drive the meeting and adapt your mindset to what they require in that moment. This may be a session to transfer knowledge to enable them to drive forward an initiative, for example. Or it could be a time to talk about their individual career goals and strategizing on how they can best achieve them with your support. Carving out this time and making it count will create strong alliances, and will best position each individual for success.
Furthermore, one on ones should also occur at the “skip” level so each team member has exposure to their manager’s manager. Similar to the sessions with managers, every Product Manager should have the ability to discuss what is top of mind for them. It is also a great opportunity for leaders to share any executive-level updates that employees may not have heard about. This feedback loop goes both ways, of course, and senior management will hear firsthand about critical insights and potential issues from the field.
Each Product Manager drives a critical component of the product vision to meet organizational goals. These product areas can be related to one another to provide customer value through the overall product portfolio. Therefore it’s crucial for team members to communicate closely with one another. These communications can also take the shape of one on one meetings provided their cadence is appropriate. Another approach is to have these sessions with a broader group of colleagues to cover multiple product areas.
Either way, the candor and empathy in these discussions are vital to strengthening inter-team connections. They also broaden the team’s perspective on the unique goals and challenges each product area is experiencing. The collective vantage points – enabled by strong lines of communication – create a powerful problem-solving force that all PMs need in their arsenal.
Finally, the full product team meeting – or “All Hands” – is also a great way to reinforce the lines of communication and align to team goals. But be sure to follow good meeting hygiene. Begin and wrap up on time. Successful meetings start with an agenda that is available for all participants to review and contribute to. To create positive energy and foster engagement from the start, ask the team for wins they would like to celebrate as the first agenda item. This simple exercise does wonders for making meetings more enjoyable and productive. Make sure to provide ample opportunity for participants to speak using their preferred method (e.g., speaking up, raising their virtual hand, typing in chat). Then ensure that no precious views are lost by asking each individual at the end of the meeting for their thoughts per Calendly’s recommendation.
Conclusion: Intentional communication
Strong communication means building connections at all levels of the product organization. From one on ones with PMs and product leaders, to peer meetings, to team communication, maintaining these lines takes work. So be intentional. Cultivate communication. And reap the benefits of empowered teams that function at the highest level.
About the speaker
Bharat Manglani is a Product Manager at ZEFR, which focuses on powering the age of responsible marketing. He started his career with 10 years as a technology strategy consultant and then pivoted into the technology sector to pursue his passion for managing the end-to-end product lifecycle. In his prior role at HUMAN (formerly White Ops), he managed the customer facing portal which empowers users to mitigate sophisticated fraud across their advertising, marketing and application ecosystems.