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The Dirt: Overcoming Hiring Challenges on Your Product Team


What does Peter Drucker have to do with your product team hiring strategy? Turns out not much really, but in this episode of The Dirt we attempt to make that clumsy connection.

Fresh Tilled Soil CEO Richard Banfield sits down with Heath Umbach to talk about the fact that hiring remains a big problem facing product teams. Products are ultimately created by people. It’s not the tools, and it’s not the technology. If you don’t have good people, you aren’t going to be able to create great products in a timely fashion. As long as human beings are involved in the creation process, companies are going to have to find them, hire them, onboard them, train them, and immerse them in the company culture. All of these things are “people problems.”

We’ve heard from many product leaders on the subject of hiring talent. Of many challenges that emerge, the most common and cross-cutting of these are:

  • Where do we find the right talent?
  • How do we know that this talent is going to have the “hard skills” that we need? The skills that make things work – collaboration, conflict resolution, the ability to communicate and present clearly?
  • How can we build teams that are cross-functional – they represent UX, design, engineering, behavioral sciences, data, etc.?
  • How can we build and develop teams that act autonomously (we can trust that they can and will do their job)?
  • How do we create the physical and virtual environments to co-locate conversations on a regular basis to share ideas?

The supply of solid product focused design and development talent has not kept up with the demand. What’s worse is that many product leaders are delaying projects that are directly tied to key business objectives until they can fill critical open positions on the product team. But this challenge should not get in the way of your product success. Product teams need an immediate-term, a medium-term, and a long-term strategy to keep the train on the track.

Are you running into the challenge of open positions keeping you from getting projects off the ground? We are running a short, 4-question survey on product team hiring challenges and would love to include your experience. So please take a look and submit your responses! If you do, we’ll be sure to send you the results as soon as we have them.

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Author Heath Umbach

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