Executive Vice President, Chief Technology and Product Officer, N-can company
Over the past few months, we have seen turmoil in the markets, with tech companies’ stock prices falling sharply. We’ve seen massive layoffs at high-tech companies, with many forecasting a decline in growth and investment over the next year. This is the first time in over 10 years that we’ve seen the technology industry operate in a more constrained business cycle, and as product leaders we need to adapt and help our organizations navigate this changing business cycle.
We need to revisit some leadership skills and support that we haven’t had access to in years. Managing talent on product teams, managing messaging to the rest of the business, and recognizing that you will be under extra pressure as a business and product leader are all necessary to succeed in these challenging times. Here are some concrete steps product leaders can take to succeed in a difficult economy.
1. Recognize uncertainty.
Everyone in the organization will feel more uncertain about the future of the business than before. For the past 10 years, the challenge has been recruiting and retaining talent. Individuals are now concerned about keeping their jobs and company performance in light of high-tech layoffs. As leaders, we need to see the situation and help the team realize the value they bring to the company and what a good outcome would look like. Build trust by being transparent about the good news and the bad, and sharing what you know from past experiences. As a leader, strive to help teams focus on mission-critical work and deliver efficiently. Also, help teams identify key metrics and outcomes and report on their progress on a regular basis. This keeps teams focused on what matters, while also helping each team focus on achievable goals.
2. Use indicators.
Since teams focus on team-level metrics and results, you, as the Product Owner, should use these metrics to report to the rest of the business on the product team’s success in terms of metrics and business outcomes, as well as the progress the team is making toward those outcomes. These reports work well when communicating with other business units, but they can also be used internally to show the impact of product teams across the business.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
During challenging times, it is critical for leaders to communicate with their employees and organizations. Teams and employees need to be confident that the work they do is having an impact. More regular communication can help everyone in the organization feel more connected to the work and mission. Continuous sharing and re-sharing of business priorities, expected outcomes and status is key to building and maintaining trust and aligning things with the business.
4. Seek and invest in efficiency gains.
When growth is key, priority is often given to growth-related projects that will drive new revenue, new customer growth, or both. However, with free cash flow and other profit metrics becoming a higher priority, now is the time to look at what has been built and look for optimization. Businesses should actively look for opportunities to improve efficiency. Keep a list and look for opportunities to invest in areas that reduce manual labor, drive cost savings and improve business efficiency. Investing in eliminating technical debt or manual processes now allows businesses to chase growth in the future.
5. Assess your organization and workforce.
Over the past 10 years, as product leaders, we all wanted to hire and grow the team as quickly as possible as we built new capabilities to drive growth. As difficult as it is to think about given the changes in the marketplace, now is also the time to assess your team and understand where you have the right leadership, where you may have too much leadership, and where you have leadership in your organization. talent.
As the tech job market cools, now is the time to find key talent that might not have been found before. Should you replace underperforming or underperforming employees with better performers? You should make sure your business is set up for success. When there are never enough people, you may be able to tolerate mediocre or below-average performers. However, now is the time to assess your talents and use this opportunity to improve your organizational structure or talent if necessary.
For the first time in years, shifts in the economic marketplace are causing product leaders different concerns. Using the five strategies above can help product leaders guide their organizations through these turbulent times and continue to drive success.
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