Why Can’t We Be Friends? Tips for Product Managers and Designers to Get Along More Smoothly
In just about every office in any part of the world, it will sometimes seem like people in different departments speak different languages. That’s because each department has its own set of priorities – and a particular personality type that is drawn to those priorities. Accounting values accuracy and precision, while Sales prizes energy and competition; Legal moves cautiously, while Marketing pounces on new trends. Each approach is ideally suited for the task at hand, but that doesn’t make it any easier when it comes to communicating across departments. Below you’ll find three tips geared toward easing one of these types of “language barriers”.
Respect the Process
There are many instances where it appears that a department is spending an inordinately long amount of time on what seems like a quick and easy task. A product manager, for example, may get frustrated with the UX design team if he or she believes a design feature is taking too long to get built out or go to market. Conversely, the designers may feel rushed by other departments that do not understand or respect the meticulous process that leads to a successful launch. Before getting frustrated with someone else’s timeline, it pays to dig deeper into how the other team goes about their tasks. This knowledge will go a long way in setting timelines that everyone can agree on.
Trust People to do Their Jobs Better Than You Could
A major stumbling block to effective interdepartmental relationships is the concept of too many cooks in the kitchen. At its core, this actually reflects a positive quality: all project participants are engaged and feel they have a stake in the project and its future. Unfortunately, this can also lead to team members stepping on each others toes, taking on too many responsibilities, or micromanaging tasks that were not theirs to begin with. If you have a solid team, remember to let each person fill the role they have spent time, experience, and education to hone.
Don’t Just Prioritize… Communicate those Priorities
No matter the department, it’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled in too many different directions by various demands. Oftentimes, individuals will get bogged down by these demands and present them to coworkers in a frenetic fashion, creating a domino effect of stress and inefficiency. Remember, if priorities change and that change – along with its rationale – is not communicated to other teams working on a project, then you have a recipe for disaster. Most people have had the unpleasant experience of finding out late in the game that a task or feature they spent valuable time on is no longer needed. Avoid this scenario by promptly communicating any changes in the timeline or focus of a project.