Build a Successful Product Team by former PayPal Senior Product Manager

team of surgeons working

Today’s world has become extremely complicated where a single PM cannot solve a problem single-handedly. It is vital to have a high-performing team backing her up. But what does a high-performing team look like? What are the common dysfunctions of a team and how does one overcome them? What are the tools that a PM can use to encourage team-building?

Liat answers all these questions in her talk below and provides tips and suggestions, stemming from years of her experience as a PM.

Managing Risk and Product

Liat Laron is currently Head of Cyber Risk Product at BlueVoyant. She used to be the Senior Product Manager for the Consumer Financial Services product, at PayPal. She was responsible for product ideation, prioritization, and execution, with multiple scrum teams globally. She has previously worked as the Head of Regional Intelligence & Technology Department at Unit 8200 – Israeli Intelligence Corps.

Liat has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business Management at The Hebrew University, a Master’s degree in Organizational and Management Consulting at Tel Aviv University, and a Project Management Professional Certification from Stanford University.

team playing basketball by the sea

Team Building

How does one build a high-performing team? Liat says that a high-performing team shares responsibilities and works towards attaining the desired results. Remember the following golden rule:

Team members of a high-performing team depend on each other and are available to fill in for each other when in need.

cycling peloton

Common Dysfunctions of a Team

Liat mentions the common dysfunctions of a team that prevent it from becoming a high-performing one. For every dysfunction, she provides suggestions on how to overcome it.

  1. Absence of Trust: When your teammates do not trust each other, it is important for you to encourage them to share their strengths with each other and also provide constructive feedback to each other.
  2. Fear of Conflict: When people are not arguing, they are in artificial harmony. They don’t realise that conflict is crucial for the team in order to bring out the best approaches towards solving a problem. So, encourage your teammates to argue with each other if needed and voice their opinions.
  3. Lack of Commitment: Lack of trust and fear of conflict leads to lack of commitment within the team. In order to get your teammates to be more committed, you need to ensure that they are clear about where they’re heading at and are open to sharing their opinions in team meetings.
  4. Avoidance of Accountability: Accountability can either be taking the responsibility  for something or a simple “I don’t care”. It is important to encourage your team members to be accountable for their actions and not blame the other person.
husky dogs pulling a sleigh

Practical Tools for Busy PMs

Taking your teammates out for beer and pizza is not the only way to build a team. Liat says that PMs need to be more practical in their approaches towards building a stronger team and suggests significant tools that can help them achieve this:

  1. Set expectations and start with why?
  2. Focus on strengths: Almost everyone understands that identifying strengths of each other within a team can benefit the team. But what is strength? Gallup states that strength is a basic skill that you’re usually born with and that which gets better over a period of time as you use it. So, identifying your strengths are important. Liat suggests a simple activity where you can tell a friend about a situation where you felt your best and then ask your friend to identify your strength.
  3. Use Design Thinking for Relationship Building.

Team Building Across the Ocean: When you have multiple teams spanned across the globe, make sure you encourage all round communication and do not hesitate to have face to face video meetings and stand-up slacks. Liat also suggests a tool called FunRetro which can help your teammates leave notes for each other thereby building a stronger team

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