All in: Here's how product pros at 3 LA tech companies keep their teams excited and engaged

by Michael Hines
April 25, 2019

Product managers are a lot like the head coach or manager of a sports team. It’s their job to communicate the organization’s vision to the team, develop an actionable strategy around it and ensure everyone is engaged and executing — all while never losing sight of the bigger goal.

It’s a lot to manage, to say the least (no pun intended). We recently spoke to product managers and leaders at three local tech companies to learn more about this balancing act, their unique approaches to facilitating collaboration and how they keep their team excited and engaged.

 

ServiceTitan Los Angeles product team jobs

ServiceTitan’s cloud-based business management platform helps home service companies enhance their customer service, increase sales and streamline operations. VP of Product Ed Yip said his leadership style was shaped by a CEO he worked with early in his career who preferred to delegate rather than dictate. When it comes to his team at ServiceTitan, Yip takes a similar approach, which he said helps ensure that everyone is excited and engaged with their work.

 

How do you facilitate collaboration on your own team and cross-departmentally?

First and foremost, you have to establish the right culture that enables and encourages the behavior you’re trying to drive. To that end, I’m a big fan of frequent informal conversations. I have an open-door policy and encourage my team to take any time they need from me without the need to find a meeting time. My belief is that collaboration needs to be organic and dynamic. It has its own rhythm and cadence. By supporting informal interactions, my aim is to enable a much higher volume of interactions between colleagues, both within and outside of the product team.

I want to create a culture and an environment where every team member can flex their product muscle.”

 

How do you keep your teams excited and engaged?

I was fortunate in the early phase of my career to work for a brilliant CEO who entrusted his team with the autonomy to figure out how best to deliver on their accountabilities and support company objectives. The immense responsibility we were given was extremely exciting. I have modeled my management style similarly. Leaders are excited to lead, and I want each member of the team to feel they are all leaders in their area of responsibility.

At the end of the day, no one wants to just be told what to go build. It doesn’t matter whether you are several years into your career or just starting out; we all want to figure out what we’re capable of. I want to create a culture and an environment where every team member can flex their product muscle.

 

Verifi Los Angeles product team jobs

Verifi’s end-to-end payment protection and risk management solutions help e-commerce merchants boost their businesses by cutting down on chargebacks and fighting fraud. In addition to providing his team autonomy and ensuring they understand the impact of their work, Manager of Product Management Prakhar Lodha said taking time to celebrate small wins is also important to keeping everyone engaged.

 

How do you facilitate collaboration on your own team and cross-departmentally?

As the manager of our Platform product, it is important to lead and facilitate cross-departmental collaboration. Usually, this starts with a cross-department kickoff meeting, where the context of the project and how it aligns with established objectives and key results is provided. My leadership style is task-oriented, and as the project moves further into execution, it changes to relationship-oriented.

My teams are in multiple locations and we meet daily, using tools to chat and help address and overcome roadblocks. As the project moves forward, there has to be a cadence of regular meetings set up to facilitate consistent communication so that we are able to provide visibility and transparency to all of our stakeholders. I believe that if the team has a common vision and understanding of how their work directly impacts goals set by company leadership, they are empowered to take the initiative.

Big wins are celebrated at the company and department level, but I also set milestones and try to celebrate small wins.”

 

How do you keep your teams excited and engaged?

This starts with setting goals that are challenging, but realistic. I am very transparent with my teams about the company objectives and expected results. I trust them to deliver toward the overall goal and don’t manage day-to-day productivity, and they trust me with removing roadblocks so they can push forward. The goal is to drive continuous delivery and incorporate a feedback loop from other stakeholders so the team is not working in a silo, which allows them to understand the impact of their work, both outside and inside the company.

Last but not least, as a former manager used to say, “smell the roses.” Big wins are celebrated at the company and department level, but I also set milestones and try to celebrate small wins. Small wins helps with sustaining momentum and motivate the team!

 

FloQast Los Angeles tech team jobs

FloQast’s close management software was designed by accountants for accountants to streamline the month-end close process. When it comes to facilitating collaboration, Product Manager Aynsley Moffitt said it’s important for everyone involved to know the “why” behind a feature. As for keeping team members excited and engaged, Product Manager Naimur Rahman said establishing a feeling of ownership goes a long way.

 

How do you facilitate collaboration on your own team and cross-departmentally?

Moffitt: Collaboration and communication are key. With my teams, there’s an open-door policy and we encourage discussion. With each challenge we strive to thoroughly understand the “why,” “what” and “how.” The “why” comes from many channels, including our sales and success teams, R&D and directly from customers, and helps provide context to challenges. We then develop a clear and compelling cause that aligns with our strategy and the customer’s pain, which we then communicate across departments so they’re aware of the problem we are trying to solve, not the feature we will be creating.

Once the team has developed a “what” and “how” we communicate to stakeholders and customers to serve as a validation that we are heading down the correct path. We provide updates cross-departmentally through our weekly product email, which communicates what we’re working on, why we’re working on it and the expected deliverables and training dates. Of course, we do our best to remain agile and collaborate outside of this cycle as necessary.

I try to be as transparent as possible with all my product decisions, with the goal being to enable team members to own the product instead of simply being part of it.”

 

How do you keep your teams excited and engaged?

Rahman: I try to be as transparent as possible with all my product decisions, with the goal being to enable team members to own the product instead of simply being part of it. Once ownership is established and each team member has a full understanding of why they are working on a feature, what’s at stake and how they are directly contributing to solving a client’s pain point, excitement and motivation comes naturally.

 

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