Throughout your career you will undoubtedly find yourself in many situations where you will be joining a new team or gaining new team members. A make or break factor in your ability to collaborate effectively with said team and with those new team members is the level of trust you have between one another.

Trust is crucially important for product managers, since the members of your team you need to influence and collaborate with the most will not be your direct reports. In my experience, this is the most important factor in being able to effectively deliver software with your team. Those that don’t earn the respect and trust of their peers unfortunately don’t last long in their role.

Enter the Behavior change stairway model. Popularized for use in hostage negotiations, this model is based on a key set of insights.

1. In order to change someone’s behavior you need to be able to influence them
2. In order to influence them you need to develop a trustful relationship
3. This is only possible if you empathize with them
4. and empathy requires you to ACTIVELY listen to the person.

Take: this isn’t a tool for psychopaths to manipulate people. This is a two way model that all parties in a relationship can use to get better at building trust. All collaboration requires behaviour change on the part of the individual actors.

Like any muscle, if you don’t use it, you will lose trust. You must keep the lower levels of the model active to continue to maintain behavior change.

I Hope this helps you in your daily work. Book your 1:1s with your team mates, be vulnerable with them, listen and and empathize with the scenarios they find themselves in. As a team you will need to respond and react to the changing world, market, and company you’re part of.

Don’t be an asshole!