How To Be A Good Product Manager

Tips on product management and product marketing for product managers. By Jeff Lash

Manage your relationship with your boss

Posted on February 13, 2007 by Jeff Lash · No Comments

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If you want to be a bad product manager, assume your boss is trying to get in the way. Managers are always trying to take credit for their subordinates’ work and meddling in details that they shouldn’t be involved in. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by sharing as little information as possible. Don’t go to your boss until you’ve got a really solid idea that’s been vetted and can’t have any holes poked in it. When you run in to trouble, don’t let your boss know — you don’t want to look like you can’t solve problems yourself. You need to be sure that your boss is confident that you know what you’re doing, and the more time you spend with him or her, the more he/she will think that you’re not competent to be in product management.
If you want to be a good product manager, work with your manager to help improve your effectiveness as a product manager. Product managers are in an interesting position, often fully responsible for a “business within a business,” yet still accountable to a single individual with even broader responsibility. By working with your boss properly, you can still maintain your autonomy as product manager yet get assistance when needed.

A boss is not just someone who scrutinizes your work and determines your raises. Take control of the relationship by using your boss as someone to bounce ideas off of. By asking for feedback and sharing your thought process, you will involve your superior in your decision-making process and learn more about what guides him or her.

Managers can help clear roadblocks when necessary. While you do not want to be constantly asking for help in areas that you should be able to manage, when a serious obstacle gets in the way of your product or project, your boss can be instrumental in helping clear the path.

One great way to manage your relationship with your boss is to ask for constructive feedback to help keep you pointed in the right direction. By proactively asking for feedback — not just hearing it when you make a mistake or at performance appraisal time — you can understand what you can do to be more effective and successful.

This should work well if your manager is reasonable and competent, which most managers are. If you have a manager who isn’t, it’s even more important that you manage your relationship with your superior rather than letting them manage it. The more you can take control of the situation and lead them in the direction you need to go, the more you can mitigate his or her bad qualities.

How To Be A Good Product Manager features tips on product management and product marketing, written by Jeff Lash (@jefflash on Twitter), Vice President and Group Director for the Product Management and Portfolio Marketing research and advisory services at SiriusDecisions.

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