Posted: 19 Dec. 2022 9 min. read

Activating excellence through product organization talent

What to consider with your talent for product teams

Authored by Anthony Jardim, Liz Mihm, Maya Bodan, Nate Paynter and Sanjay Purohit

The fast pace of modern technological advancements has led to an increasingly competitive and complex digital landscape. Companies that find the most success on their digital journeys build customer-centric product organizations—allowing them to drive value frequently and directly to their customers by leveraging continuous data-driven insights. This article is part of a series exploring Deloitte’s perspective on how companies can create product-centric organizations.

How can leaders activate their product organizations through talent?

As part of companies’ digital transformation journeys, we introduced essential considerations in earlier perspectives to consider how a product organization’s workforce is key to supporting its strategic ambitions and activating its operating model. This component is in line with the growing demand for product organization talent, as the percentage of product management postings in the marketplace alone has almost doubled over the last five years.The surge in demand for product skillsets with organizations becoming more product-led provides opportunities for talent from diverse backgrounds and reveals how the labor market has outpaced structural adaptations.

At the core, an organization’s shift to the product model needs to be enabled by talent that:

  • Is inspired by the challenges the organization faces and is eager to learn new skill sets aligned with the organization’s ambition
  • Is valued as a critical workforce segment and seen as key contributors to the organization’s strategic goals
  • Is empowered to innovate and drive change
  • Considers the organization to be the destination organization

Product organizations need to address the following questions to identify different talent levers for a comprehensive talent management plan:

  • How can leaders find the right talent for their product organizations?
  • How can product organizations develop a high-performing workforce?
  • How can organizations incentivize and retain their top product talent?

How can leaders find the right talent for their product organizations?

In a recent Deloitte survey, nearly nine in 10 executives say skills are becoming more important for how organizations define work, deploy talent, and value employees.2 Yet, at the same time, 70% of global employers struggle to find the right skills.3 To find the right talent, leaders must prioritize the right mix of technical skills and human capabilities for their product organizations.4 For example, the product manager role requires various skills and capabilities (as seen in Figure 1) to create customer-centric products. In addition, high-impact product managers also bring experience leading cross-functional teams, the ability to appreciate product engineering and design, and a proven track record of building multi-platform products.5

Figure 1: Illustrative product management skills6 and capabilities

Leading product organizations proactively assess the skill proficiencies of their workforce and consider closing skill gaps through talent acquisition. This process includes tapping into alternative talent sourcing avenues, such as internal feeder roles and contingent talent for on-demand support.

Putting it into practice:

Situation: A leading health solutions company’s IT department partnered with Deloitte to create a skills framework as part of a talent initiative to help it reach its desired objectives. The client also conducted a skills assessment with approximately 9,000 IT employees.

Outcomes: The client defined and secured leadership buy-in on desired future-state product management, technology, and soft technologist (“engineering mindset”) skills and desired proficiencies by role category. The client also understood role-specific skill gaps in the current state and developed a tactical plan to address skills of lower proficiencies.

Overall, a product organization’s holistic understanding of the technical skills and human capabilities required is foundational to driving its staffing and hiring needs.

How can product organizations develop a high-performing workforce?

Global organizations’ desire to invest in learning has been one of the top human capital trends in recent years.7 In addition, 46% of surveyed product managers say there is a need for formal training on specific product ways of working at their respective companies.8 Leading product organizations build skills internally through formal and informal learning opportunities. For example, impactful product manager boot camps can help align product managers to the organization’s ambitions and unique challenges, upskill and reskill talent on leading tools, and infuse a product-centric mindset to drive customer outcomes. Additionally, product organizations can embed product coaches into teams to support learning in the workflow,9 provide on-the-job coaching, and reinforce formal learning.

As the demand for ongoing learning increases and networks of teams emerge across product organizations, the need for performance management to be real time and continuous has also become increasingly important, with 79% of executives rating this issue as a high priority.10 As a result, product organizations are deploying agile performance management practices to drive employee engagement and align performance closely with how product teams operate. This includes deploying real-time, continuous, and multidirectional feedback mechanisms to support autonomous cross-functional teams mobilized around quick, iterative outcomes.

Putting it into practice:

Situation: A global bank adopted a “technology first” mindset as part of its technology talent strategy revamp to attract and retain talent with the desired technical skills and capabilities. Due to the competition for top technology talent and the short lifespan of technical skills, the client needed to upskill its current workforce by creating contextualized learning and fostering a technology-led development culture.

Outcomes: The client defined a vision for a “tech academy” that offers multichannel, contextualized learning centered on developing prioritized skills and creating meaningful connections to build strong technologist communities.

Learning and performance management tactics collectively equip product organizations with the talent levers to obtain needed skills, engage employees, and drive customer-driven results.

How can organizations incentivize and retain their top product talent?

Finally, leading product organizations adopt broader definitions of rewards and invest in the workforce experience to incentivize and engage their top talent.11 This includes resetting cultural norms to align with product talent expectations on ways of working. A critical component is ensuring that governance structures and decision rights are set up to empower product teams. For example, product managers must be able to operate largely autonomously with their teams to make decisions quickly, prioritize features, and “fail fast” in some instances to meet changing customer needs.

Product organizations also create space for innovation and ideation by providing alternative resource-deployment opportunities for product talent to pursue passion projects and hone their desired skills. In addition, incorporating the latest technologies across the organization helps product talent get work done faster and create new value.

Putting it into practice:

Situation: A global technology company needed to develop a strategy to maintain a positive company culture and improve the workforce experience during a reorganization. The client partnered with Deloitte to implement a systematic, analytics-based approach to transforming its culture.

Outcomes: The company converted its customer-first vision into tangible, leadership-led actions, prioritized using inputs from CulturePath™, Deloitte’s proprietary culture asset that provides an objective perspective on cultural indices critical to business outcomes and organizational cultural change. The client also incorporated differentiating behaviors into role profiles, creating a behavioral blueprint to model and drive its desired high-performance and growth culture.

In sum, making strategic investments to elevate the workforce experience is now paramount to retaining top product talent, in addition to traditional rewards practices.

What will you build?

A well-designed product organization can only realize its desired benefits with a comprehensive talent management strategy and plan. By identifying the right talent and empowering them with meaningful developmental experiences, product organizations can build a high-performing workforce that inspires product innovation and encourages talent retention.

Ready to take your product organization talent practices to the next level? Deloitte has worked with product organizations across industries and at every stage of the maturity scale. Our professionals can help you identify skills your employees need, optimize your most talented staff, and implement leading practices in performance and employee engagement.



  • Amanda Solomon
  • Kolbe Klement
  • YC Wong


1 Deloitte Human Capital Data Lake.
2 Michael Griffiths, Sue Cantrell, and Julie Hiipakka. “Moving your organizational strategy from jobs to skills.” Deloitte Insights, July 15, 2022.
3 Jeff Schwartz, Kraig Eaton, David Mallon, Yves Van Durme, Maren Hauptmann, Nic Scoble-Williams, and Shannon Poynton. “The worker-employer relationship disrupted.” Deloitte Insights, July 21, 2021.
4 John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Maggie Wooll. “Skills change, but capabilities endure.” Deloitte Insights, August 30, 2019.

5 Lokesh Ohri, Anthony Jardim, and Ben Peterson. “High-Impact Product Management.” Deloitte Digital, 2020.

6 Deloitte Human Capital Data Lake.

7 Jeff Schwartz, Indranil Roy, Maren Hauptmann, and Yves Van Durme. “Learning in the flow of life.” Deloitte Insights, April 11, 2019.

8The Future of Product Management,” Product School, 2022.

9 Luc Lutin, “Superlearning,” Deloitte Insights, June 29, 2020.

10 Nathan Sloan, Stacia Garr, and Karen Pastakia, “Performance management: Playing a winning hand,” Deloitte Insights, February 28, 2017.

11 Jeff Schwartz, Indranil Roy, Maren Hauptmann, and Yves Van Durme, “Rewards: Closing the gap,” Deloitte Insights, April 11, 2019.

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