You’ve probably often heard that the Product Manager is the mini-CEO of the product. The part of this phrase and the one that goes unsaid is that you need to be prepared to be a CEO. It can quickly become a stressful situation if you are not. Remember, in a PM role, perception is the reality!
Here are five things that will happen to you as soon as you become PM.
- Attacks from Engineering– A disengaged engineering leader (e.g. Director) will walk into your meeting and announce that s/he does not understand why we are building what we are building.
- Frowns from leadership — Once the perception floats that your requirements aren’t clear, the leadership starts to doubt your communication skills. Everything, from how you write emails to how you persuade others in group meetings, will come under scrutiny.
- Mis-Alignment — Your manager may start to blow your 1:1’s away and seldom acknowledge or act on problems you escalate. Disengagement is a clear signal that you need to be survival mode.
- Broken Process — Even though it’s not your job directly, remember you are the mini-CEO and broken process and missed deadlines will be highlighted at review time.
- The Matrix — Finally, the cross-team collaboration with sister teams, will significantly impact the progress that your team makes. Developing a rapport with all peer team leaders is an investment that’s better made early.
In addition, in many cases when you are new to the role, your primary job as the PM is to execute on an existing vision. Clean slate product design or customer discovery may not be what is required but may not be stated as such.
Realizing whether you are in survival mode or inspiration mode will be key to your long term success.
To summarize — what might be blocking you from future and further growth isn’t your technical skills rather your understanding of those that you work with.
Highly recommend, The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin to start the process of building awareness.