Let me be upfront: five years ago I was a lawyer turned product and I was overwhelmed. It seemed product managers struggle despite following much of the best practices associated with product management, myself included.
Five years later, after growing with three startups, I was privileged to guide dozens of other product managers in 1:1 mentoring sessions. As I was concluding my last session, I’ve taken the time to reflect on the main topics that were raised. It then became clear that multiple PMs had similar challenges of which I’d like to share — ordered by the frequency of them being raised:
- Establish a healthy Product <> Engineering culture
- Stakeholders Management & Communication
- Decide what to build next
- Improve your product skills
- Transitioning and nailing your first PM role
I’ll elaborate on each one, adding my take and approach to solving them.
#1 Establish a healthy Product <> Engineering culture
Engineering is the one group you’ll work most closely with, and as such - you want to make sure you’re having a productive and fruitful relationship. Gaining engineers’ trust will allow you to run faster and ship better results as a team.
Following are several ways to get there:
Involve Engineering as early as possible
Your Eng. lead is not a stakeholder, rather your closest sparring partner. The more of the mind melt you have, the easier it’ll be to later rely on their buy-in and execution. Avoid presenting your team with a fully-baked epic and expecting them to deliver. Doing that will lead to you having a list of Assomption about complexities and possible solutions and a less committed Engineering team.
Instead, lay down the “why” and high level “what” and then pull your Eng. lead to be part of the brainstorming phase. By doing so you’ll achieve 3 things: