Working With Different Styles of Communication

Jean-Benoit Malzac

Head of Product at Ava



In tech, we try to automate a lot and we try to streamline processes when possible. In engineering, you have an input and an output; you put something in, and something then comes out. This logic permeates our world, but not necessarily the world of humans.

This can be a problem for people of different backgrounds. I, for example, am a product manager coming from a business background; for me, it’s a bit easier to access these different layers. But it can be very challenging for others.

Actions taken

When I joined my own team, I learned that it was very important to understand the motivation behind what people would like to achieve. You really need to understand how the people around you operate in order to work with them successfully.

Different people may have different preferences in terms of communication channel; understanding this can really be a gamechanger. For myself, I prefer to be on a video call, because I value that eye contact. A colleague of mine prefers, conversely, to have a Jira ticket in front of them, and nothing else. If the Jira ticket is not up to date, that’s something that is going to really bother this person.

By knowing and accepting these differences in styles and channels of communication, you will be able to collaborate more effectively with the rest of your team. I use the example of an engineer, but it is exactly the same for designers or anybody else in your company. What will the people around you appreciate the most? Identifying this and acting upon it will be the best thing to do for your team, not only as a Product Manager, but even as a manager in general.

Sharing the vision, for me, involves charting a course by way of destination. It’s about actually convincing the organization to put in that into place, that’s the first step. You need to have a strong argument, convincing and showing how this would be helpful. I go to my leadership, I introduce the OKRs, explain why they’re helpful, We anticipate structural changes so that we can actually make things happen at the organizational level. Moving toward the same OKR will cause us all to be moving toward the same objective. This has really been a gamechanger for our company.

Lessons learned

  • As teammates, we are all human beings. We need to have bulletproof processes in place in order to have team efficiency. Really, what matters at the end of the day is whether or not you have those relationships with people.
  • Every single issue can be boiled down in errors in miscommunication. It’s important to have empathy toward differences in communication between yourself and those that you work with.
  • Our engineers have a lot of great ideas, and good communication has actually encouraged our cross-functional collaboration.

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Jean-Benoit Malzac

Head of Product at Ava

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyEngineering ManagementLeadership TrainingFeedback TechniquesTechnical SkillsCareer GrowthTeam & Project ManagementDiversity & Inclusion

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