Over the past several months, we have seen turmoil in the markets as technology company stocks have been hit with significant price decreases. We have seen a large number of layoffs in high-tech companies, and many companies are forecasting lower growth and investment for the next year. This is the first time in more than 10 years that we have seen the technology industry operate in a more constrained business cycle, and as product leaders, we need to adapt and help our organizations deal with this changing business cycle.
We’ll need to revisit some of the leadership techniques and enablement that we haven’t had to deal with for several years. Managing the human talent on your product teams, managing the message to the rest of the business and recognizing that there will be additional pressures on you as a business and product leader are all required to be successful in these challenging times. Below are some concrete steps that product leaders can take to be successful in difficult economic climates.
1. Recognize uncertainty.
Everyone in the organization is going to feel more uncertain about business prospects than previously. Over the past 10 years, the challenge has been hiring and retaining talent. Given the layoffs in high-tech, individuals are now worried about holding onto their jobs and about the performance of the company. As leaders, we need to acknowledge the situation and help the teams recognize the value that they bring to the company and what good results will look like. Build trust by being transparent with good news as well as with bad news, and share your knowledge from past experiences. As a leader, work to help the teams focus on mission-critical work and deliver efficiently. Also, help the teams to identify key metrics and outcomes and report regularly on their progress. This keeps the team focused on what is important but also helps each team focus on the achievable.
2. Use metrics.
As teams focus on metrics and outcomes at the team level, you, as the product leader, should use those metrics to report to the rest of the business on the success of the product teams in terms of both the metrics and the business outcomes, as well as the progress the teams are making toward those outcomes. These reports work well when communicating with the rest of the business, but they can also be used internally to show the impact the product team is having on the business as a whole.