As I reflect on my journey as a Product Manager, one thing has become abundantly clear - the relationship between a Product Manager and their manager is pivotal to success. Over time, I've come to realize that there are certain promises that great Product Managers should make to their managers.
These promises go beyond just words; they are the foundation of a strong and mutually beneficial partnership. In this article, I'll share 21 promises that, in my experience, can foster a productive and harmonious relationship between Product Managers and their managers. So, let's dive in and explore how these commitments can pave the way for success in the dynamic world of product management.
Promise: I will keep you updated on progress, achievements, and blockers
As product managers, you should have regular one-on-one meetings with your managers to share details on the progress you’ve made in the last week, any wins/fails that you’ve unlocked, and any roadblocks that they can remove for you. Doing this will create consistent and open communication and alignment.
Promise: I'll be honest and transparent. Whenever I'm overwhelmed, I'll ask for help. If I'm unsatisfied or stressed,
You should be honest, transparent, and candid with your manager about your work, challenges, and well-being. The only way your manager can help you succeed is by knowing what you’re going through.
Promise: I will always have data (or logical reasons) for recommending a new idea.
As a product manager, always provide data or logical reasoning to support your ideas and recommendations. This helps your manager trust you and your decisions.
Promise: I will not always agree with you, but I will have an open mind. I will expect the same from you.
You don’t have to agree to everything just because your manager says so. At the same time, it is important to listen to them with an open mind, even if their opinion is different from yours. Similarly, it is fair to expect your manager to have an open mind when you’re disagreeing with them. Creating an open and honest environment is critical for both of you to collaborate well and create successful products.
Promise: If there are others who are making my job tougher, I will tell you.
If you’re unable to make progress, especially because of other people who are out of reach, always tell your manager about it and seek help. Unblocking yourself proactively is important, and getting your manager’s help for it is the best way to make it happen.
Promise: I will seek feedback regularly, and take it positively. I will act on the feedback, share progress, and ask for help when needed.
As product managers, it is important to get better all the time. And the best way to do that is to seek feedback from your manager. They are usually the closest to you, and can share meaningful feedback on your performance. When you do receive feedback, especially negative feedback, take it positively. If you disagree with something or are unable to make sense of it, ask your manager for more details and specific examples. Once you identify opportunity areas, keep sharing progress regularly.
Promise: I will be goal-oriented. I will define clear goals before I invest time on any projects.
It is important to set goals and success criteria for all tasks/projects that you take on. This will not only help decide the success of the product, but it will also help your manager objectively measure how well (or not) you did on a specific task.
Promise: I am OK if priorities change as long as you share a logical reason for the same.
Priorities will always change. As long as there is a logical rationale behind it, you should be open to such scenarios. And if you lack clarity and context, feel free to ask your manager to share all the required details.
Promise: I will never abuse your trust in me.
Good managers trust their team members. And as a good team member, you should respect that trust and never abuse it. Maintaining that trust will do you good in the long run.
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Promise: I will manage my time efficiently
Manage your time efficiently, ensuring you make the most of their work hours and meet deadlines effectively. Your manager is counting on you to be efficient and deliver on your commitments. If you’re unable to manage time properly, candidly share with them and seek help.
Promise: I will deliver on what I promise, or I will let you know in advance.
Deliver on your commitments as much as you can. If you face challenges, inform your manager in advance. Do this proactively so they can manage expectations with other teams. Doing this will show your manager you are good at execution, planning, and risk mitigation.
Promise: I will be a team player, and enable the larger team for success.
Do things that support the success of the broader team. After all that is what your manager’s goal is. And the more you help with their goal, the better it is for you in the long run.
Promise: I will never deflect mistakes. I will learn from them
You will make a lot of mistakes. Proactively own them, and then learn from them. Share with your manager – what went wrong, what you learned, how you fixed it, and how will you prevent it in the future.
Promise: I will be honest. Always.
Honesty is the best policy. Honesty wins your trust. Trust wins you bigger and better scope. Scope offers you success.
Promise: I will be an excellent communicator.
90% of your job is communication. Do it well, and help your manager see what you did well. At the same time, ask for help if you’re struggling with it.
Promise: I will share the credit
For every win, share credit. Recognize individual and team contributions fairly.
Promise: I will give you candid and fair feedback.
Managers also have opportunities to improve. As a product manager, always share candid and proactive feedback with your manager. Help them get better at their job.
Promise: I am ambitious. I will share my aspirations with you. I will ask for guidance.
Be ambitious, and share your ambitions with your manager. Ask them to help you create a plan that will help you reach your professional goals. If you’re struggling with creating goals or a plan to get there, ask your manager to help.
Promise: I will always have an owner mindset, and stay accountable to the tasks I own.
Never deflect ownership and accountability for your area of responsibility. Strong ownership of individuals makes a manager’s job easier.
Promise: I will do my best to maintain a positive environment within and outside of the team.
Product managers are in a lot of tough, heated situations. And these situations can become negative and non-productive. As a great product manager, it is your job to manage such situations like a leader and help everyone stay positive.
Here are some tips for product managers on how to follow through on their promises:
- Be realistic when making promises. Don't make promises you can't keep.
- Break down large promises into smaller, more manageable ones. This will make it easier to track your progress and stay on track.
- Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
- Communicate with your manager and other stakeholders regularly to keep them updated on your progress.
These are all the promises I make to my manager. Your promises might be different.
The larger message is to have a common understanding of critical topics with your manager. The sooner you do it in the relationship the better it is for your career progress.