What’s all this hiring hullabaloo? And interviewing stress? A panel AMA event

If you are looking to change jobs or looking to hire, right now is an interesting time! We’ve been hearing ‘product is in demand’, there’s an impact on salaries and OMG! It’s the ‘great resignation’.

But what is really happening out there? We have a panel of folks in the thick of it to help understand what’s really happening.

Join us to hear what’s really affecting how they hire, what’s the same and what is changing and ask your questions! This is an Ask Me Anything (AMA) format. This is for both folks looking to hire and those looking for work or ‘open to opportunities’. We’ll be using slido for questions (#hiring) and it will be a hybrid session – so folk are welcome at our host location and online. RSVP now.

Our Speakers

Megan McDonald, Head of Product & Experience Design at World Vision Australia.

Megan has been working in Product roles for over 15 years, and over this time has experienced first-hand the exciting transformation of the role of product in organisations. She’s very ashamed to admit that in her early days as a fin services Product Manager she built products that were designed to extract revenue by limiting customer value .. yep, on purpose! But, in the years that followed, she’s also super proud to have been involved in the evolution of product into the truly human-centred practice it is now. 

Megan is a passionate believer in the value that good Product Management can deliver to organisations and their customers, and is busy putting “my money where my mouth is” as a council member of the Association of Product Professionals, working hard to advance the product profession. 

Day to day, Megan leads the Product & Experience Design function at World Vision Australia, and an amazing team focused on delivering Australia’s favourite charity experience. “I feel so lucky in this role because I get to solve real customer problems by building sh*t that works, all in the service of eliminating global poverty. And at the same time, I’m helping to create the next generation of product and design thinkers and practitioners.”

Georgia Hart, General Manager, Middleton Executive

Georgia moved to Melbourne roughly 5 years ago with just $200 in her pocket after spending her travelling budget way too soon (oops!). She found myself back in recruitment, learning the Australian landscape and quickly found that there are a lot of very cool start-ups and companies creating a big impact in the world. Georgia had traditionally always recruited Engineers with a little bit of Delivery & Product on the side but wanted more of it so joined Middleton Executive. Middleton Executive is a talent partner of choice for some of Australia’s most eminent tech and product companies and was founded to connect people in the product space. She’s had the pleasure of working with some awesome brands such as SEEK, Whispir, Papercut and is learning from some of the best product leaders in Australia. Big shout out to them for teaching her so much! 

In her own words “There’s no denying that the last 2 years have been a rollercoaster. In March, all my clients stopped hiring, people were losing their jobs, it was sheer panic. I found myself out of a sales role and in more of a position to support people navigate through the unknown. 2 years on and here we are, in the busiest market I’ve ever found myself in and having to learn new skills to attract the most in demand talent.”

Shiyu Zhu, Group Product Manager, Zendesk

Shiyu is an experienced Product Manager with 5+ years of experience in building product roadmaps and shipping features in an agile environment. She is problem-driven and likes to take a customer centric approach in every product feature to make sure it has an impact and solves for a real customer problem. Currently hiring at Zendesk, Shiyu has some key learnings about how the organisation has had to make adjustments in their approach in the current climate.

Our Host
Intelligence Bank

IntelligenceBank is the leading innovator in digital assets management and marketing operations.  The company helps marketing teams seamlessly manage digital assets, creative content approvals, marketing compliance, and creative project management to ensure brands get to market quickly, stay on brand and ensure regulatory compliance. IntelligenceBank’s beautifully designed platform is used by over 400 brands with 500,000+ users in 55 countries. IntelligenceBank has offices in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Follow them on LinkedIn

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After Research: Creating Useful & Well-Executed Research Outcomes – February Wrap

Following a number of sessions on gathering customer feedback, we were fortunate to be joined by seasoned researcher Jess Nichols to share some insights on the next stage of research – bringing it all together and synthesising your qualitative data, creating reusable and actionable insights and advocating your research across your team. 

Setting up for Success – Do Not Do Research in a Bubble

Research is there to mitigate business risks. 

Therefore, one of the worst outcomes is for your research to be ignored, shelved, or not utilised. 

Alleviating this risk begins before you even start conducting your research. Give some thought to what successful research looks like. Are you trying to drive to specific research outcomes? What is the wider business context? Are there strategies or OKRs that can act as your guardrails? Work with your team to ensure you are solving the right knowledge gaps for them. Having this North star can help to provide clarity in what questions you need to answer with your research.

Synthesising your Data

Once you have collected all your feedback and conducted your interviews, it’s time to collate your research and find the patterns in the data. This is crucial for connecting your data to any desired outcomes. 

Participants will commonly try to contextualise questions with their understanding of the problem or situation. They may apply their own biases to their responses. So you should not take their responses at face value. Understanding, and classifying the data into behaviours (what people do) and attitudinal (what people think) can be beneficial. Try to drill into the responses to find the underlying pain points. 

"What people sat, what people do & what they say they do are entirely different things" - Margaret Mead

You can then form insights from the patterns of behaviours or attitudes.

Some tips for when you analyse your data:

  • There is no single right way to analyse your data. So just start, and pivot along the way.
  • Use your OKRs to guide you.
  • Be comfortable with conflict.

Sharing your Insights

One of the aims of research is to have no surprises at the end. Share as you go. This can help to identify what resonates, what may be controversial and need more care, or what can derail conversations and should be avoided. 

Research also won’t be useful if your teams don’t understand it. Creating stories can be a useful vehicle to deliver insights. Your team is more likely to remember stories that they can connect with, which can make it easier for them to incorporate the customer insights into their work. 

  • Tie the insights back your original research questions;
  • Advocate for your customers’ needs (especially those which may not have been considered by your team in the past);
  • Help your team understand how to action what you’ve learnt about your customers. 
Insights are the sticky stories you want to tell about your customers.

There will always be biases, from both your participants (friendliness, social desirability, habituation) and your own (confirmation bias, cultural bias, halo effect, etc). The main thing is to recognise them and to then try to minimise them. 

Ensure your Research makes an Impact

As well as being the biggest advocate for your research, find and partner with others to help champion and influence behaviours.

A handy way to approach this is by:

  • People: to amplify your learnings. You can start with designers, marketing and product marketers, other product managers and your research community.
  • Processes: to add traceability to your findings. Insert relevant insights into the product development process, through user stories, requirements documents or annotations in designs.
  • Platforms: to store your research for future use. Upload your presentation to your internal wikis. Bring up relevant insights during meetings. Share bite-sized insights over chat.

Your research will not always have a clear or direct impact on a business outcome. Sometimes the result will be more subtle, and change the direction or the way we understand our customers over a longer period of time. Either way, celebrate the impact you make, big or small. 

Successful research involves a level of humility. Not just listening to your research participants, but listening to your internal stakeholders so you can be effective with them using it.

Thanks

Thank you to Jess Nichols for sharing, to our volunteers Nosh and Steve and our event sponsors Pluralsight / A Cloud Guru.

Further Reading and Resources

You can find Jess on LinkedIn, Twitter or her website http://www.jessnichols.com.

Some resources mentioned during the session include:

Never Rescue your Team from the Villain – September Wrap

As Product Managers, we constantly find ourselves knee-deep dealing with strategic decisions, prioritisation and leading without authority – all of which can create anxiety and conflict in our day. But how should we approach this drama, and are there ways to flip the switch? In September, Kate Edwards-Davis introduced us to the Karpman Drama Triangle to help illustrate the dynamics of this drama.

The Karpman Drama Triangle

The Karpman Drama Triangle, developed by Stephen B Karpman, is a social model that describes the human interactions between three opposing roles:

  • Victim;
  • Persecutor (Villain); and
  • Rescuer (Hero)

Karpman represents these roles within an inverted triangle, to demonstrate the natural hierarchy, with the persecutor and rescuer being in positions of power or authority above the victim.

The Victim can commonly feel powerless, helpless or oppressed. They may hold a sense of pity for themselves, and feel incapable of negotiating or meeting the demands of the persecutor. Surprisingly, the victim usually initiates the drama, when they seek out a rescuer to save them, which in reality can reinforce the Victim’s negative mindset.

The Rescuer (or Hero) can be perceived to have an authority or mastery, which we don’t recognise in the victim, and will step in to save the victim from the persecutor. The victim encourages this belief, as it is easier to be rescued rather than being accountable. 

The Persecutor (or Villain) may be critical of the victim. They blame the victim for failing, or perhaps even for the anticipation of failure. They might feel superior to the victim, and that the victim’s actions (or rather inactions) are holding them back. Often, a person may assume the persecutor role due to being a victim in another triangle.

In reality, everybody oscillates between all three roles in different situations. The repetition and switching of roles reinforces the cycle, and can cause the participants’ actions and reactions to fall into dysfunctional patterns.

Who is the winner in this circle (triangle) of drama?

Nobody wins.

Everybody feels justified in their position.

  • The Persecutor avoids accountability, as it is always somebody else’s fault. Some common traits include not knowing how to use authority with compassion, or how to ask for something difficult. They struggle to challenge others without threats or aggression.
  • The Rescuer receives gratification from having somebody depend on them. However, their actions prevent the victim’s own self-empowerment. 
  • The Victim finds it easier to not take responsibility for their own feelings when challenged in a difficult situation. They seek safety and protection from others, and feel valued by having others take pity on them.

Beating the Triangle

We need to learn to recognise the triangles around us, so that we can avoid them if we can. 

If avoidance is not possible, or it’s too late and we’re already in a triangle, then we should reflect on our own role first, and how our interactions may be contributing and prolonging the triangle. Resist the temptation of judging others and their intentions. We need to shift our own mindset first.

There are some alternative triangles to counter the drama triangle.

The Empowerment Dynamic

  • The Challenger (instead of Persecutor) makes the requests and gives constructive feedback to drive the team forward.
  • The Coach (instead of Rescuer) empowers the victim to help themselves.
  • The Creator (instead of Victim) accepts and pursues the challenge.

The Compassion Triangle (OR Winners Triangle)

  • The Persecutor needs to use assertion rather than aggression.
  • The Rescuer needs to care for the victim, encourage and acknowledge their capabilities, rather than taking over and solving the problems for them.
  • The Victim needs to accept the challenge, and admit their vulnerabilities. Be accountable but also seek the appropriate guidance.

Resources and Slides

Some of the resources mentioned during this session included:

Thank you

Thank you again to our presenter, Kate Edwards-Davis for sharing, our volunteers Nosh, Gwen and Steve, and our host and Zoom sponsors, Cogent – who help companies build great products loved by millions of users, from small startups through to tech giants like Square, Xero and REA.