One of the most contentious relationships in any company is that of the product manager and the product or user experience designer. Without a clear division of where one role ends and the other begins, there can be conflict. It doesn’t help that others in (and outside) of the organization may not fully understand the not-to-subtle differences between the two roles and, thus, inadvertently contribute to the conflict.
Both managers and designers have similar competencies and, in theory, are working toward the same goal: Creating an experience that meets the user’s needs based on preferences and analysis of the users, market, prototypes and other data.
How can you reduce the conflict and create a stronger culture of collaboration in a product design and development environment? If your enterprise isn’t seeing the level of collaboration you need, try these proven techniques.
1. Provide Better Collaboration Tools
More modern collaboration tools that are “always on” and allow for real-time collaboration, including notes, IM conversations, shared documents and more, can limit misunderstandings and improve communication. Encourage teams to collaborate via phone calls and video chat. Companies can use video-integrated phones, like the DX650, which features integration between landlines and smartphones (check out the Cisco DX650 user guide here). The more ways teams can collaborate and communicate, the less time they’ll spend confused and unproductive.
2. Identify More Areas for Collaboration
Product designers and managers may experience conflict or confusion over the definition of roles. By identifying where the two disciplines can collaborate more effectively from the start, you can limit the conflict and improve the collaboration. Look for areas where results can be put into action immediately, such as usability testing and user stories, which both improve collaboration and consistency in the results.
3. Focus on Tasks and Relationships
While leadership is often approached as an “either-or” proposition, with leaders focused on either ensuring task completion or with building relationships, the fact is that the best teams are those led by someone somewhere in the middle, who can both keep tasks on track and foster relationships. When the members of the team have actual relationships, they are better equipped to handle conflict and share ideas
4. Clarify Roles
According to research from the Harvard Business Review, clearly defining roles so that each team member feels as if he or she can work independently improves collaboration. When you have defined roles, those tasks that require more creativity or collaboration will receive the attention they deserve without being “passed off” to someone who may or may not have responsibility for that task.
5. Train inCollaboration
The skills for effective collaboration need to be taught. Follow the lead of companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, which includes training in the fundamentals of collaboration, including emotional intelligence, teamwork and communication, for its more than 140,000 employees worldwide. In short, you cannot expect your team to collaborate effectively if they don’t have the skills to do so; consider adding collaboration to your employee development plans.
Do everything you can to foster a culture of collaboration, and your business will see more productivity, more satisfied employees and, ultimately, better products.
Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content online. With almost two years of experience in blogging, Rowe has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing remarkable content for all audiences.
Released: September 26, 2016, 10:53 am