How to develop great product <> engineering team chemistry

Creating a positive working relationship with your pod/scrum team is essential for delivering great products. All teams I work with have amazing chemistry. Sometimes I think I just got lucky with great people but after the 4th team I realized that there’s something in my work approach that helps.

My Product Management Philosophy

  • The opportunity to learn is held above perfection of a feature.
  • Product feedback is a gold mine for feature improvements and new opportunities.
  • Engineering and Product is a partnership, one cannot succeed without the other.
  • Be an expert using your data analytics tool. People should come to you for help when slicing data.
  • Not knowing something is a chance to learn.
  • Strive for “love notes” from users.
  • Being paranoid about the product is a good thing.
  1. Create a team contract that incorporates each other’s values and team norms.

2. Actually reference that contract in retros.

3. Do feature kickoffs with engineering as if pitching to Product leadership (what, why, how, competitive analysis etc.). But make it slightly fun with a few memes.

4. Encourage questions from engineers. Engineers have a remarkable ability to think about all the edge cases possible with a feature (this is also a great way to CYA). Prioritize those edge cases and now the risks possible with the final product are atleast known.

5. Share test results with the team. Showing the team had a meaningful impact on the business and the consumer’s life matters.

6. End each stand up with putting hands in and shouting “Go Team!!!” (it’s corny and silly but it’s good to start the day with a laugh).

7. Celebrate big feature launches by sending the team socks (everyone loves socks).

Look at the joy in their faces

Here is what we have in our contract for reference:

  • We take pride in what we build.
  • We value each other’s time (we are fully present in meetings).
  • We value experimentation with our products and processes as a team.
  • We celebrate team achievements big or small.
  • Not knowing something is a chance to learn.
  • Ask questions.
  • Help each other out and help other teams out (roll up your sleeves attitude).
  • Take ownership.
  • Be honest with each other.
  • Hold each other accountable.
  • We know about issues on our products/services before others.
  • We maintain a positive attitude (complaining is contagious).
  • We work smarter not harder.

Consumer Product Manager at HomeAdvisor. Former startup founder, management consultant, and int’l development fellow. Lived, worked and studied on 4 continents.

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