Product management is relatively still a new field of work. More importantly, it is one of those fields that is neither science nor art.
And unlike science, there is no right or wrong in product management. Which means there is no way to know if you're doing product management correctly or not.
With that said, there are 15 things that I've learned (the hard way) over the last 10 years, that are very strong signals of you doing product management right.
1.Don't pay too much attention to the "PM is the CEO of the product" stereotype.
While there is some overlap in what a CEO and a PM does, there is a larger part which separates the two roles. CEOs don't fire fight or create decks for investments. But PMs do that a lot.
2. Invest in learning effective communication.
90% of what we do is communication -- sharing ideas, motivating others, sharing progress, talking to customers. Not doing it well will make it impossible to be a good product manager.
3. Form genuine and long lasting relationships
The other 10% of our jobs is to get shit done. And getting shit done is easier when other talented people support you. Build relationships with such people so they are there to support you when needed.
4. You do not need to know EVERYTHING
But it always helps to know how to find answers to everything. As a PM, you should know the best person or the best resource to find an answer to any question about your product/domain
5. Don't do anything until you know the "why" of it.
Always know the larger goals, and ensure you know if/how what you're doing contributes to the larger goals. This is the only way to create impact.
6.Don't get intimidated
People with a loud voice and fancy titles will try to override you (even when you're logical) Don't let that happen. Instead: build confidence, build knowledge, build relationships
7. Ask for help
You will be overwhelmed most of the time. You might not know all the answers. In such times, ask for help. There are always more people willing to help than you imagine.
8. Don't say "Yes" to be nice
Say Yes when you mean it. Say NO when it is a NO, and explain why it is a NO
9. Don't doubt yourself
Instead, invest time to know your business and product better. Identify people and resources that can help you get all the relevant information. Get feedback and learn how to get better.
10. Don't fear making decisions
Decisions are a critical part of our jobs. The more we make them the more we learn. So make a lot of them and make them fast.
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11. Use your time wisely.
Treat your time as you treat your money. Spend it wisely, save it, never waste it. How you treat your time is also how others will treat it.
12. Focus on outcomes/impact and not output.
Tasks and effort are useless unless they drive an outcome and business impact. If you're not creating impact, you will not grow.
13. Embrace ambiguity
Never fear ambiguity or complexity of problems. Instead, learn how to reduce ambiguity by breaking complexity into small understandable chunks.
14. Don't avoid conflict
Product managers have opinions, which are not necessarily well received by others. This leads to conflict. Resolve these conflicts ASAP
15. Drive alignment always.
You need to get critical decision makers on the same page, even when it is tough. There is no way around it. Don't avoid it. Instead learn how to negotiate better.