Product Team Performance Improvements

Steps Executives Can Take to Improve Performance

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In a recent post for the Boston Product Management Association I outlined several steps that members of product development teams can take to improve the performance of their teams. These steps are a result of our ongoing research into what distinguishes high performance teams from the pack. Over the last five years we have identified over 25 statistically significant factors that can favorably impact product team performance.

In this post, I would like to list three items that executives should be mindful of if you want to help your teams perform at a higher level.

  • Accountability metrics
  • Cross-functional hand-offs
  • Time spent with customers

A Closer Look at Performance Enhancers

Let’s begin by taking a closer look at accountability metrics for product managers. In most organizations of scale the product manager brings heightened focus to a product or product line. However, our research shows that roughly a third (31.3%) of product managers “are not held accountable” to any performance metric. If executives want to improve performance it is important to have established and clearly understood success criteria. It is also critical to arm your product managers with the necessary tools to measure their progress and performance.

Additionally, our data shows that even when executives articulate clear accountability metrics and empower their product managers they can be undermined by ineffective hand-offs between the cross-functional team members that support overall product development activities. This factor has shown up in each of our five years of statistical research as a potent landmine. Organizations tend to think functionally, set goals functionally rather than cross-functionally, and this often leads to competing priorities and degraded communication. These issues undermine the success of product teams and are the number one reason product teams point to in terms of the factors impeding success. Executives should be paying more attention to cross-functional roles and the critical hand-offs that can determine the success or failure of a product team.

Finally, how well do you empower your product managers or owners to directly engage with clients and prospects? 28.5% of organizations have their product managers spend between 1% to 5% of their time in the field. While roughly 15% (14.8%) of product managers never leave the building! Organizations often say that getting close to customers matters but not all organizations make the necessary cultural or financial investments to ensure that this occurs.

There is Clearly More to This Picture

These are just three factors that executives should be mindful of in order to help empower the success of their product teams but there are many more. You can download our latest research by clicking here.


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