Clarity Drives Trust for Prod Mgrs

career innovation Sep 01, 2021

Do you trust your leaders?  Does your engineering/cross-functional team trust you? Do you work in a culture where trust is non-existent?

To move into leadership and inspire your team, product managers need to learn the art of building and maintaining trust.  

What does a team without trust look like?

  • Everyone is out for themselves.
  • Land grabbing when there is a new product
  • When things go wrong, fingers are pointed, and there are a large number of buses (running people over)
  • You are walking on eggshells throughout the day
  • Stress increases
  • Your work hours and hours, hoping someone will notice you.

Creating an environment of trust both within your cross-functional teams, your direct teams, and with other stakeholders is critical for innovation and collaboration. 

The more trust you can build, the more effective you become as a leader. This is when your product career will start to soar.

Let’s start with some fundamentals of trust:

  • You cannot just tell your teams to trust you. You need to earn it.
  • People are more creative, motivated, productive, and willing to sacrifice for the team when there is trust.
  • Trust is not a technique. It is not like an agile or requirements framework. It is the cornerstone that allows you and your team to build amazing products.

Trust is a fundamental leadership skill for product managers. The good news is trust is built on habits that can be formed. The bad news is trust takes time to build and can be destroyed in an instant with one bad decision.

Today, let’s talk about building trust by providing CLARITY. You need to provide clarity of vision, expectations, and the product work itself to your teams and stakeholders.

Shared Vision

One of your most important jobs as a product manager is to provide a clear vision. A clear vision unifies teams together. It helps engineers make decisions about the right architecture. It helps prioritize stories and epics.  

It is challenging to have faith in someone who has an unclear product vision and strategy. A product vision can be very high level. But the product vision must be simple and easy to understand. You cannot just start with requirements, user stories, and epic's. You must start with a clear vision.

Set Expectations

As a product manager, clear expectations are critical. Do not get into the details of the architecture. But be clear on the customer, their BUSINESS challenges, and the context. I recommend that product managers are on the road with customers at least 20% of the time (once COVID is over) to truly understand what the market needs and why.

The clearer the expectations of the business challenges you are trying to solve, the more likely you will have a successful MVP.

Do Not Micromanage Others

Micromanagement is the ultimate trust killer, not to mention a massive waste of time. If you are clear about the requirements, the outcomes, the work will get done.  

Stay out of the swim lane of engineering. If you question the design or architecture, ask it in relation to the customer context—for example, scalability, usability, or how it will meet the business needs.

Be Transparent

Don’t play games with your teams. If the roadmap is going to change, let the stakeholders know. Be transparent and authentic. Mean what you say and say what you mean.

Those who are trusted are candid; they aren’t afraid to tell the truth in the clearest way possible. When we see others hiding information, trust disappears.

Yes, you need to be confidential when appropriate, but when you are willing to share relevant information, people will see you as an inspired leader.  

To move into product leadership and inspire your team, product managers need to learn the art of building and maintaining trust.  This is what my product management clients learn as part of my programs and the results are nothing short of amazing (aka promotions, significant raises).

Imagine moving into leadership with a $50K RAISE at a company you admire.

If you are DONE with being stuck in your career. If you want to get PROMOTED into leadership and do not know what steps to take, then you have two options.

Option 1: Take a look at my leadership Masterclass where I walk through the key ways to move into product leadership.

Option 2: If you are ready to take MASSIVE action to become a leader, schedule a complimentary breakthrough session. This is not a sales call but rather a strategy session where we’ll build a plan to help you move forward.

Let's stay connected, shall we?
I promise you this is worth it! 
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