How to Earn Your Teams Trust

joshua-tree-illusion-dweller-10Go big or go home. That’s what we used to say to each other while climbing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We pushed ourselves harder and harder every season. We were constantly trying to find our best on those boulders, cliff faces, and mountains.

I’m still trying to go big. Except now the mountains have become revenue goals, and the relentless desire to get to the top of the cliff has been refocused on some crazy new product. The game has changed, but the rules are the same.

One of the mandatory elements you have to have in climbing is trust. Trust in your partner. Trust in his abilities, his focus on your shared goal, and his commitment to always putting his partner’s safety first. Trust in your partner is sometimes all you have when your ten miles away from the nearest phone and on a 1000’ vertical rock face. Continue reading

What Mud & Teams Have in Common

Jensen Tough MudderI have heard a lot about the Tough Mudder challenge for a few years now. It has always sounded like a great event, I just never found the motivation to try it out. Luckily for me, I work for a company that values team building and comradery. So when one of my co-workers called and asked me to join the official company team, I figured why not.

For those of you who don’t know what a Tough Mudder is, I will quickly explain. A few years back there were a couple of guys who came up with this idea for an endurance running event. The concept was to lay out a 10-12 mile course. Scattered throughout that course would be 20 military style obstacles that would challenge runners both from a mental and physical stand point. So participants scale walls, military crawl under barbed wire in mud, and run through a field with dangling electrical wires charged with 10,000 volts. Continue reading

Why you are never too important to get your hands a little dirty

I graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering back in 2006. After working two years for a Civil Engineering firm, I got laid off at the end of 2008 due to the housing crisis.

24026_405492651671_1190499_nSo by the summer of 09’ I was broke, newly married, and desperate for work. Fortunately I landed a dream job working for a company called Ropeworks. The company specializes in rope access which is essentially industrial rock climbing. Using rope techniques developed on the big walls of Yosemite Valley, workers are placed hundreds of feet in the air to perform a wide variety of tasks.

I was fortunate enough to get hired because of my engineering background. The original idea was that I would help the company land more bridge inspection jobs. I did do a few bridge jobs (I even got to inspect the Crescent City Connection in New Orleans), but most of my time was spent doing maintenance work on 300’ tall wind turbines. Which was an awesome gig for an adrenaline junkie like me.

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A Few Tools I Use To Resolve Conflicts

In the last post we talked about where product managers run into conflicts and what some of the root causes for those conflicts are. In this post we will take a look at some tools I have found to be useful when working on conflict resolutions.

Leave Your Emotions at the Door

The quickest way to escalate a tense situation is to let your emotions control your actions. So many things can go wrong if you go into a confrontation feeling intense emotions such as embarrassment, anger, or fear.

When I have to have difficult conversations with people who I feel have wronged me, I sometimes have these emotions stirring inside. It is important to keep these feelings from influencing the things I do or say so that I don’t negatively impact my team.

DeathtoStock_Medium9To accomplish this, I will often step outside and focus on my breathing while walking around the building. Continue reading

A Few Lessons I’ve Learned About Resolving Conflicts

One of the less enjoyable roles of being a product champion is dealing with people who are not happy either with you, your team, or your product. It does not take very long playing this game before you will find yourself in some embroiled misunderstanding. Working in the construction industry, I have often encountered that big hairy foreman who has no problem getting in my face when things are not going well. Conflict resolution has been essential for keeping my product development efforts from getting derailed over a misunderstanding.

What conflicts arise in a Project Management Role?

Conflict ResolutionCustomers. If you did a real bang up job during your research and development phase as well as working with your focus groups, you might have avoided those bumps during the first release of the product. If not, get ready to take care of some frustrated customers (which you absolutely must do if you want to stay in business).
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Building Great Teams

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The team is the engine that moves the product to the market. A team that is well oiled is often unstoppable. Every member understands where the product is headed and should be excited about the role they play in taking it there.

You are the driver. You are at the wheel making sure everything stays on course. To be an effective driver, you need the right tools. You need to understand how to build the engine, keep it oiled, and improve it. Continue reading

Developing High Value Relationships

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When starting a department from scratch you often have limited resources, funds, and knowledge. Those limitations will likely be a reality for the foreseeable future until you prove the new product is viable. Even if you have a small team and a decent budget there will be knowledge gaps that you might not be unable to overcome. But I can promise you that someone within your organization or close to it has the answer or ability you need. The best part is that their help is probably free (or at most, the cost of decent lunch). Continue reading