What’s your favourite and least favourite part about being a product manager?


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Akshayaa Govindan wrote a piece on Medium this year outlining some of her favourite and least favourite parts about being a PM.

What are some of yours?


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From my role as a head, I love to guide, coach, teach and learn from my team, products and stakeholders!

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What a great article and I totally agree with all her points. 

Favorite: Being able to touch so many points of the business “stack”. I’m formerly a software engineer so talking tech on the same day as talking marketing and sales strategy is a lot of fun especially when all the touch points can drive clarity and focus around a common goal.

 

Least Favorite: The moments of pressure revolving either seeing an enormous change to the product being imminent or on the horizon, or the pressure of disappointing folks in my organization with scope or timeline concerns when they might desire a clearer path. Not everyone in your org thinks like a product manager. The ability for a PM to see the nuance versus the head of sales who does not can be frustrating.

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@Michel Hauzeur thanks for sharing the like (love the people part of that one), what do you not like?

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@Mmcclain thanks for sharing those insights into your favourite/least favourite. How do you address some of those least favourite parts in your day-to-day? For example, do you find pulling yourself out of working solo and collaborating with others helps you get the right perspective and balance? Is it seeking help and support from others? Is it working alongside other roles to grow your empathy? Something else?

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Hi @scott.baldwin great follow-up! Are you forcing me to actually work on my problems? How dare you!

For me a lot of times I just need to recognize it and realize I am internalizing the pressure. If I feel like something is not going well, I’ll directly ask for positive reinforcement or feedback to see the situation from a different perspective. Usually things are not as bad as they seem. 

Or maybe I just put a rant out on a product management community forum.

 

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Favorite part: Helping leadership teams direct their business from a wholistic strategy. That ultimately improves the lives of the employees and the clients.

 

Least favorite part: Battling with orgs that incentivize the defense of silos. It’s a tough mindset to change and managing via “influence” isn’t always enough.

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Those are interesting ones @plainclothes -- the favourite one has to be super satisfying to see when it happens and everything lines up. How have you been approaching your least favourite part to turn those into favourites?

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@scott.baldwin great question. I’ve been trying to develop a repeatable solution to that problem for a long time. Here’s where I’m at now …

In tight partnership with the CFO, COO, and others in the org who can help me trace operations and revenue to the nuts and bolts of the current state of affairs. I reverse engineer how the siloed “strategy” is creating material harm and paint a picture of an alternate future via forecasts grounded in their current reality. 

In the end, I find that even seemingly irresponsible leaders are quite pragmatic. You just have to figure out what their flavor of pragmatism is grounded in and create a path to improve it and the other critical metrics they’ve been over-looking.

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Interesting to see everyone’s responses!

My favorite is when I fix something small that was driving someone crazy - I love those little moments when I can identify a problem and quickly solve it and make an impact.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I also loved doing a big full product rewrite, but the times when a CSM or a customer is like “you just made my job a little easier!” warm my heart.

My least favorite is politics and bureaucracy, especially if people are disagreeing on the solution (or even the problem) and you just know there’s this whole complicated backstory that you’re not being involved in, or when you get brought in after a decision has already been made and you’re just executing on it because you weren’t involved in those “higher-up” discussions. 

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Those are great ones @mcipher those little moments that spark delight are fantastic to see. How do you navigate the politics and bureaucracy? What are some of the methods you apply when folks are in disagreement?

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Thanks for sharing this article Scott!

 

Favourite: breaking new ground on product ideas, researching other industries for inspiration, and the breadth of work I have the opportunity to do (such as user research, technical discovery, presenting and more).

 

Least favourite: the pressure to deliver when there is a never ending list of things to build. Justifying prioritisation choices constantly, having to explain it many different ways to different stakeholders can be exhausting.

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Anytime @Parveen Downer!

Love that you enjoy diving into new ideas — that's SO much fun as there’s a ton of green field ahead and room to experiment and explore.

On the least favourite side -- that's a pretty common one to hear. Do you just push through these challenges or are there particular techniques you use to overcome them?

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Good question @scott.baldwin - on the least favourite side, my techniques for justifying prioritisation is to talk about decisions, upcoming work, and vision in as many forums as possible (we have a sensible amount of internal meetings where we share information across teams, and infusing my questions and responses with ‘this is why we are building X next’ or ‘when users say ‘[insert anecdote here]’, I find it helps solidify the narrative and reasoning in my stakeholders minds. Communication little and often is how I would summarise this technique.

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