Product Management for People Team

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Product Management isn’t just for products anymore.

Product Management  (PM) is an important organizational role. The role evolved from the brand manager position often found in consumer packaged goods companies, whereas product managers are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for a product or product line. The position may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities.

While your engineering and product teams are accustomed to the PM role help to streamline processes, create roadmaps, and help with experimentation.  However, PM working with the HR team heads into new territory for many organizations.

Neil Hayward of Post Office Group says it the best- “HR professionals often fall into the trap of adopting ‘product push mindset’. Someone shows us something bright and shiny, and irrespective of circumstance, we often try and fit it into our organization, even though the circumstances of our organization might be completely different. If something is being designed to work in the organization, there has to be an end user and customer. It has to be taken through ideation, design, testing, piloting, and rollout. It has to connect the whole function end-to-end. If a great, shiny idea like rolling out training doesn’t have the administration and booking right, and you can’t cope with the volume in the HR service center, it falls over straight away.”

As an overall business, if your end user (whether B2B or B2C) doesn’t like your product, they will stop using it,  resulting in obvious revenue loss. The same mindset should be applied to your employees.

Here are 4 ways to approach the Product Management Mindset for HR:

1.  Determine Your People Team’s Reputation and Brand
While you might know how hard you and your team work to provide employees with great benefits, a positive work environment, and other perks- employees may not see all that behind the scenes work. The first step to improving processes is  introspection. Ask yourself, if you were to ask an employee what function HR performs and their opinion of the team, what would they say? What the HR teams reputation amongst employees? How do managers think HR supports their teams and the organization? Does your people team “market your services” appropriately to the rest of the organization? Hold a brainstorm session to determine the answers and create a chart of what the current state of HR and the organization is and where you would like it to be.

2.  Interview Employees to Learn Their View on the People’s Team Reputation and Brand
The people team needs to consider the perspective of the people, ie – the employees. Interview or survey employees, especially key stakeholders (team leads/managers) about their perception of HR and the capabilities of the team.  Aggregate the responses into categories to identify the strengths and opportunities for growth for the HR team.

3.  Market the People Team’s Reputation and Brand
Draw lines from the gaps to your end goal – here is where you can start to formulate how to address the gaps with experimentation and iteration on policies, communication and HR branding. Address the feedback your employees provided during the process by identifying a summary of their insights, what changes they would like to see and a roadmap of what is to come. Clear communication will support the branding of your HR team and allow the organization to better understand the role of the people team.

4.  Develop a Mission Statement that Resonates with Your Current and Prospective Employees
As a company grows and evolves, so too should the mission statement. Is your initial company mission statement still relevant? Does it reflect the diversity of your talent? If not, it’s time to reconsider revising your mission.

Human Resources is no longer just the team that is there to step in when something goes wrong but has been elevated to be a central function of an organization’s people, culture and product/services.

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