Would You Like To Share My Purpose?

by drjim on August 18, 2008

Product managers need to create a sense of shared purpose within their product teams

Product managers need to create a sense of shared purpose within their product teams

One of the key differences between a product manager and a project manager is that a product manager truly needs to motivate others to do work for him/her. A project manager can get away with just reporting on the current status of a project, a product manager needs to make that product successful. High-commitment, high-performance (HCHP) IT leaders realize this and have come to realize that they won’t be able to be successful unless they can find a way to create a purpose that can be shared across the entire product team.

As our product teams spread out farther and farther across the globe, our ability to create this sense of shared purpose become even more difficult. Product teams that are successful have to share more than just a common employer. Their IT leaders have to spend a lot of time, energy, and effort in creating a shared purpose that will have an emotional appeal to each member of the team. This can go a long way in developing an entrepreneurial spirit within the team. How’s that for a real soft skill? Every successful shared purpose has the same three components:

  • it allows the employees to create a better world in which to live in,
  • it allows them to deliver performance that they can all be proud of, and
  • by subscribing to it they will be able to be in an environment in which they can personally grow.

Each component of this type of shared purpose both helps the firm as well as acts as a powerful motivation tool for the employees working on the product.

Creating a better world in which to live in. Although we may all be working together on a product, what are we doing to improve the world in which we live in? This can take several different forms. Doing work in the community as a team, collecting funds to help people in remote areas, etc. all allow the team to pull together on an issue that is outside of work. However, this bonding then spills over and ties the team together more closely.

Deliver performance that they can be proud of. If the product team is not being recognized as a high performance team, then the people working on that team won’t be getting fulfillment from participating. At the end of the day, the best workers really want to work with the other best workers. If it is at all possible for a product manager to choose who works on their product, then by all means select only the best workers. If not, then you need to find ways to get peak performance out of your team.

Be in an environment in which they can personally grow. Ultimately we all want to have an opportunity to reach our own personal peak potential. The only way to do this is to ensure that the job of every person who is working on the product is both personally fulfilling and one that they can get excited about. What this means for a product manager is that you need to be constantly be working to ensure that everyone on the product team is being challenged and has opportunities to grow.

Whew! Being one of these HCHP leaders sure seems like a lot of work. All this discussion about what they have to do and we’re not even done yet. Next time we’ll talk about how you can keep it all in perspective…

How do you build a sense of shared perspective for your product teams? Have you ever tried to get the team to work together on a task that was outside of work – how did that go? Do you feel that it is your job to make sure that everyone on your product team is being challenged or do you think that that is the job of other mangers and HR?

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