Five Things a Clever Product Manager Should NEVER Do

Five Things a Clever Product Manager Should NEVER Do

There are a lot of things that Product Managers can be accused of “doing wrong” when it comes to our daily jobs.  As a wise mentor once told me, if there’s not at least one stakeholder upset with you, you’re not doing your job right.  However, that doesn’t mean that we’re without fault.

If we’re honest with ourselves, Product Managers can often wind up doing things that unintentionally set us apart from the teams with whom we work.  Often, this results in an increase in randomization and a decrease in the trust that we’ve worked so hard to build and maintain with those from whom we need things on a constant basis.  One of the requirements of leading through influence is that we are mindful of how we are approaching our daily duties and what impact our decisions are having on others around us.

Here are the Clever PM’s top five list of things that a Product Manager should never do:

  1. Fool yourself into thinking that you are the customer.  You might have good insights, and strong market knowledge, but you are not the customer.  Validate any hypotheses you have before acting on them, validate any solutions before you roll them out.
  2. Focusing on the trees rather than the forest – you’re supposed to be guiding the ship, not turning the rudders.  Yeah, I know that’s a mixed metaphor, but it’s intentional – you need to be focused on strategy first, execution second.  You need to empower your teams to succeed without being there every second of every day, nitpicking and challenging their decisions.
  3. Try to leverage your position.  You don’t have one.  You only have influence.  As a Product Manager, “because I said so” never works.  Gather data and evidence, and leverage your relationships to move things forward.
  4. Do everything Sales (or Marketing, or Services, or any one stakeholder) asks of you.  You don’t exist as a servant to any one stakeholder, your job is to balance them. I’ve often told people I work with that if at least one stakeholder isn’t mad at me, then I’m not doing a good enough job of managing incoming requests.
  5. Stop learning.  You may have worked in the market for 20 years, but the minute you stepped out of the day-to-day and into a PM role, you started to lose touch with what’s going on outside the walls of your company.  Get outside, embrace as much online content as you can, leverage your relationships – continue to learn and adjust as time goes on.

There are obviously other things that we can do as Product Managers that run counter to our goals of keeping the trains running on time and increasing our influence in the organization, but these are five common traps that PMs can fall into.

Originally posted as an answer on Quora by The Clever PM.

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