Hot Tips is a collection of candid advice by and for product people.
Found a great new way to build your roadmap? Got an awesome design or research tool you can’t live without? Unearthed the holy grail of prioritisation techniques?
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Every week, we’ll curate the best Hot Tips and share them with the community.
Product Mangers come in many shapes and sizes, and are all subject to varying expectations from team members as well. What matters the most to you and why?
The best definition I've heard of what a Product Manager should do is: they get the right shit done, and tell people about it. 'RIGHT' means they have to intimately know their customers and their biggest pain points (as opposed to requests). 'GET SHIT DONE' means you need to be able to translate those problems into development and design tasks, and manage their delivery in a logical prioritised order. And finally 'TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT' means communicate well; with your team, your colleagues across your company, sales and marketing teams, and your customers, so they know the amazing solution you created exists.
A wise ex-boss once told me that to succeed as a Product Manager you need, at minimum, to be good with people and to have good data analysis skills, everything else can be learned on the job.
Over the years, I've come to realise that these two things are not are not needed in equal measure: the people part far outweighs the need to be good at data analysis.
So the #1 thing teams should expect from a Product Manager is for he or she to be a great people person. Product Managers need to motivate their team to deliver great work and sometimes that means unpicking disagreements between the disciplines, bringing everyone on board with the work and delivering any difficult or challenging news to their team in a diplomatic way.
They also have to build good, trusting relationships with people from around their own business across Marketing, Sales, Legal and more and balance all of their needs with those of their customers and users. This can often mean managing people's expectations with a lot of patience and good will.
Marketing workflow. UX design decisions. Feature prioritisation. You feel like you’re doing all these? You’re probably a Product Manager. Well, that or just a control freak.
It may seem that everything is a job of a product manager.
But, if we boil it down to bare essentials a product manager has two simple tasks. To define a product vision, and make sure everyone follows it.
Simple right? Not so much. To be able to achieve these tasks, a PM needs to be able to put on several different hats.
In the first stage, of defining a vision, a product manager is like a detective. They listen to a multitude of ideas coming from all member of the team, the users, and all other stakeholders. They uncover bad assumptions, chase after new inspirations, and discover alternative solutions. From that cloud of creative inputs they pick the gems of genius, and husk out a core image of the product.
Once this — oh so “simple”! — task is accomplished a product manager sits on the fence between two main aspects of the business. The technical, engineering side, and the “people facing” side of sales and marketing.
In this stage a PM will need to be like:
Regardless of the size and the growth stage of the company, the core role of a PM remains the same: ensure all aspects of product creation align under a single vision.