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Make Others Successful

Kevin J. Hanna
Product Manager | Creator

To Be Successful Make Others Successful

It sounds cliché and reads like karma, but it’s not. To “make others successful” actually works.

I first heard about this concept while working in my previous company, Herolens. Back then, we grew the company from 5 to 32 employees and served big name customers, all while being bootstrapped and profitable. After that, I’ve been working by the same principle with great results at Guesty, a 250+ employees company based in Israeli with clients around the world.

In this article, you will find a few ideas on how you can also implement this concept in your day-to-day to push your organization forward and at the same time contribute to your own personal success. I’ve included specific examples about Product Management, but I’m sure you’ll be able to adapt the ideas for any role which requires people and decision making skills.

Make Your Customers Successful

Whether you are building a product or offering a service, helping your clients succeed will set you on the right track for your business success. It will translate into increased customer lifetime value, and in customers becoming your brand promoters.

Making your client successful is all about providing real value to them. In the B2B world, this could be achieved by boosting your client growth, increasing their productivity, reducing their costs, etc. It’s not a coincidence that almost all B2B software companies have a ‘Customer Success’ department to address this goal.

As a product manager, the key is to deeply understand your customer before, during and after planning or executing your roadmap. 

To do so, you can adopt a healthy diet of 3 to 4 well-conducted customer interviews per month plus additional interviews to research or validate assumptions. Don’t look for direct feature requests but look to unravel their habits, challenges, pains, fears, goals and aspirations.  Also, try to incorporate informal conversations with client-facing teams, or jump on their calls with clients for an eye-opening experience. 

Make Your Users Successful

When talking about B2C, making a user successful can be a combination of making them feel good about themselves, enabling them to be more connected, letting them grow personally, professionally or financially; imagine a fitness or budget tracking app.

In the B2B world, where a customer is an entire company, it’s critical to remember that there is still an individual on the other side. These are often the individuals who make or break a deal and decide to continue using your product or not.

Making such individuals successful will turn them into your champions, your allies inside your client’s company, and they will therefore fight for your cause. Having been on both sides of the table multiple times (buying and selling a product) I consider this essential for any B2B company.

Again, as a product manager, talking directly to your users and mapping the conversations with the jobs to be done framework, user stories or personas can help you get a clear picture on how to make them successful. 

My experience has proven that on-site customer interviews with multiple users at a time can be an efficient way to discuss and challenge your product decisions. Just as an example, more than once, I’ve ended up with great real-life quotes from our users that have helped me better define the internal and external marketing for my products.

Make Your Team Members Successful

If you are only going to take one thing out of this article, this should be it: make your team members successful. This applies not only if you are leading a team but also if you are just a new team member. 

Much has been already covered by management and leadership authors with far vast experience than I have, so let’s just focus on the selfish side of this.

First and foremost, by making your team members successful, they will continuously achieve their goals. Thus, your team will be closer to achieving its shared goals, which are also your goals. That was easy, right?

In addition, once people realize that working with you is also boosting their own success, they will be more eager and proactive to collaborate with you and help you to achieve your goals. Involve your team early on. Let them be part from the get-go. Always be communicate the business goal of your initiatives and how their work will impact the company’s KPIs for good.

You will be making your team members successful by aligning them as a team. It won’t longer be your cause, but it will also be their cause. They will be motivated, committed and proud of the goals they (and inherently you!) will be able to achieve.

Make Your Boss Successful

Making you boss successful can definitely help you take your career to the next level. If you make your boss shine in front of others, she will never forget that. You will be trusted and exposed to senior management.

Don’t read me wrong. It’s not about company politics or being the teacher’s pet. It’s about excelling at your job and going a little bit beyond what is expected.

For example, as a product owner, you can own different products or features in your company. However, sometimes you can volunteer for initiatives or tasks that no one owns but your managers still need to get done. This will make your managers successful, and at the same time you will also benefit from understanding new parts of the system or flows that you weren’t exposed to before.

Make Other Teams Successful

This is all about empowering the people in your company. Depending on your role, you will find different ways of doing them in win-win ways.

These are just a few examples that I’ve found useful as a Product Manager while working with teams outside of Product or R&D.

Follow every “NO” with a reason. As product managers, you probably find yourself saying “NO” all the time. When saying NO to a new feature request or when explaining why you are not fixing a specific bug it makes a huge difference to explain the reasoning behind why. Tell your colleagues why it’s not the appropriate time, or why it’s not worth it to fix that bug. Explain what else you are prioritizing and the value than users will get out of that in turn.

You can also join Customer Success or Account Managers on their calls with their clients. You can excite their clients by telling them what’s next, what are the upcoming new releases you are working on and the why behind every initiative. Thus, the client realizes their account manager has been pushing forward for their needs, making the customer success manager stand out, and letting you in conversations with even more clients.

By being involved, you will be able to further empower your Sales Department. You can understand what they need to close more deals. Sometimes it’s not about new features but rather about rebranding and new packaging of existing features. By tapping into this, you will allow sales executives to sell more and you will boost your product KPIs when these new clients buy your solution.

Work hand-in-hand with your Support department on best practices or common troubleshooting. They will get far less tickets to answer and it will remove all issues that hinder adoption of your products.

Explain to Marketing the stories behind UX and product decisions you’ve made on new features. They will be able to create a more engaging and compelling story and in turn, help you lift your product branding.

It’s easy to see how any of these examples can supercharge your company initiatives. But again, helping others win at their job will also help you achieve your own goals by making everyone aligned and eager to collaborate and fight alongside you.

Why does it work?

What would be the opposite of “Make others successful”? Either make others fail, or be indifferent about others’ path to success. 

As Reid Hoffman, Linkedin founder, said: “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”  We don’t live on isolated islands. We depend on other people to make great things happen.

Collaboration is the only way to drive a company forward, and also to achieve your personal goals.

It’s not about balancing between your needs with other people’s needs, but a shift in mindset. On your way to accomplishing your goals, be mindful that there are other people working hard to achieve theirs, and you can either hinder them, ignore them or help them be successful.

Choose to Make Them Successful.

In Herolens, defining this collaborative rule of engagement worked brilliantly for us. It resulted in a harmonious working environment that enabled us to move fast in a highly competitive market, while growing the team sixfold.

Since then, “Make others successful” has stuck with me. I’ve moved to Israel and started working at Guesty when the company was going through a major scaling phase. All along, I’ve been living by this concept at Guesty both on a personal and company level with superb results.

Published on August, 2019

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