5 Tips for Building a Cohesive Product Team You Can Start Today

One of your responsibilities as a product manager is to build a cohesive team. Cohesive teams build awesome products. 

How does one build a cohesive team? Here are 5 tips you can start today. 

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1. Give praise... in public.

Pick one person on the team every day that has done something awesome, and mention it in standup, or any other team meeting. Maybe a developer helped you with a difficult problem, or a UX designer went above and beyond mapping out a new user flow. Praise that awesome team member - in front of the rest of the team.

Don't be fake about it - mean it genuinely

2. Ask someone on the team to teach you something they know and you don't.

Asking someone to help you with a new skill is flattering. It makes that person feel smart. Also, you will learn a ton. You could ask a developer to help you with a project for your Python class, or ask a UX designer to give you an overview of what they learned at a recent conference.

Again, don't be fake about this. Ask for something simple and specific, and that you genuinely want to learn.

3. Always assume positive intent.

Team members often have differences of opinion. This is OK until people start getting visibly pissed off. When opinions heat up, it's important to remember that 99% of the time, people's intentions are positive. As a team, you're all aiming to make the product successful, you may just have different ideas around how to get there.

Be happy that the team is passionate about the product, and this is why they have strong opinions. Support intellectual safety by letting everyone express their opinions, no matter how far in left field they might seem. 

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4. Explain your decisions.

I've seen product managers have a 'my-way-is-the-only-way' attitude - and it's not a good look. Explain the reasons behind your decisions to your team, and welcome feedback. Remember, you have insight into the business that your team may not (i.e. financial constraints, other dependencies, market conditions, competitive research.)

Express empathy for everyone's feedback, but remain firm that you're still taking it in X direction because of Y and Z. The team will appreciate the explanation.

5. Bring the bundt cake.

Ken Norton says to "Always Bring the Donuts," but I have to disagree with him here. Always bring the bundt cake. I have worked on a LOT of teams, and trust me, bundt cake > donuts.