Because of their strong leadership skills, accountability, and influence, product managers have sometimes been called “CEOs of product.” But what happens when all of these strong individuals need to collaborate as part of a team? In this editorial, ZEFR Product Lead Bharat Manglani offers advice to product teams for moving past obstacles and building stronger connections.

Bringing together “CEOs of products” will naturally result in contrasting approaches, opinions, and egos. So it is important to take a step back from the conflict mindset. Only then will teams be able to move beyond politics and power struggles and build the camaraderie necessary to accomplish great things.

Making meaningful connections

It is critical for product teams to develop strong connections, especially given the emergence of hybrid work environments. Depending on how distributed teams are, there may be a limited number of opportunities to meet in person. Some teams might never meet in person; in this case try non-work virtual hangouts. In any case, team members must take full advantage of those moments by enjoying team events, impromptu discussions, or meals together. The common bonds discovered will strengthen the relationships within the team and add more depth to each conversation.

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In addition to being fun, these experiences will make it even easier to understand each other’s perspectives and collaborate. Demanding projects and deadlines will feel a bit lighter given the increased willingness to help across the team. Once those relationships are forged, each team member will be naturally inclined to help. And the team culture and performance will be better for it.

Supporting individual goals

Team members should make it a priority to actively listen to one another. What motivated team members to join the organization? What personal and career goals are top of mind? How can team members draw on their unique knowledge and resources to support their peers’ growth? What quirks and/or hobbies does everyone have? These are among the many things team members will learn through good listening. And demonstrating genuine interest will build a deeper level of empathy and understanding between team members.

With these additional insights in mind, the team will now advocate for and support each other in achieving their goals. Team members will be driven by shared successes and be happy to celebrate each other’s wins. They will also keep one another in mind for initiatives based on their interests and advocate accordingly. Each team member will thus become better aligned to projects they are passionate about, spurring further product innovation and supporting morale and retention.

Overcoming obstacles

Different perspectives and personalities on the team will always lead to ups and downs. But making meaningful connections and supporting each other’s goals will build a foundation that is certain to help through difficulties. During these times of tension, it is also important to take a moment to reflect. Where are opinions differing? Are there relevant learnings from one-on-one conversations? These insights will help to consider potential root causes of disagreements and bring a more objective mindset to the situation. As an added benefit, the experience will forge strong connections amongst the team.

About the speaker
Bharat Manglani HUMAN, Product Manager Contributor

Bharat Manglani is a Senior Product Manager at Zefr, an ad tech company focused on enabling content-level targeting and measurement across the world’s largest walled garden platforms. He was also a Product Manager at Human Security, a cybersecurity company focused on verifying the humanity of transactions over the Internet and disrupting the economics of cybercrime. Currently, he manages Zefr\'s reporting and analytics products, and his passion lies in protecting the Internet by helping to identify brand unsafe content.

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