3 Things That Every Product Manager Needs To Know In Order To Manage

by drjim on December 9, 2013

Successful product managers know how to get people to do what they want

Successful product managers know how to get people to do what they want
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Your job title is “product manager”, just exactly how much of that management stuff do you do? For that matter, have you ever been taught how to do it? Since so much of what a product manager has to do involves getting other people at your company to do things for you (above and beyond all of that product development definition stuff), being a good manager is critical to your long term career success. Let’s take a look at the three things that you need to be able to do in order to get things done.

Targets

There is no way that you are going to be able to get a group of people to work together to make your product a success if you don’t tell them what they need to be doing. What this means for you as a product manager is that you are going to have to both set and communicate targets to the people that you are managing. Get this right and you’ll have something else to add to your product manager resume.

Setting targets is a good first step; however, setting the right targets is what it is going to take in order for you to be successful. The targets that you set are going to have to be long-term goals that everyone acknowledges to be both tough but achievable. If the goals are too easy, then nobody will be motivated to work towards them. If they are too short-term, then they will be quickly achieved and your team will then start to flounder.

Finally, because the goals that you are setting are long-term goals, you are going to have to establish short-term performance benchmarks. These are the milestones that when the team sees that they have been reached, they will be filled with confidence that they are going to be able to accomplish the longer-term goals.

Incentives

As the team works on a long-term goals that you’ve set for your product, it can be challenging to retain the motivation that may have been present at the start of the project. That’s where the power of incentives comes in. Every company is different and every product manager finds themselves with a different set of available incentives, but you need to make use of what you have.

The most important incentive tool that you need to have is the ability to reward the high performers who are working on your product. The people who have clearly produced the results that you would like everyone to produce are the ones that you need to be able to single out and reward in a public fashion so that everyone else knows that such incentives are available to the best of the best.

At the same time, you need to have the ability to take action to deal with those members of your product team who are underperformers. What you are looking for is the ability to take one of two different actions. The first, and most preferable, is to engage the underperformers in some form of retraining to correct whatever is holding them back. If this fails, you’d like to have the ability to move them off of your product’s project.

Monitoring

As any product’s project moves forward, a great deal of data about the performance of the project will be collected. The ability to collect and store all of this data will be your responsibility. Setting up a collection system is the first step in creating a way to both monitor and improve your product’s projects.

Just collecting the data will do you no good in the end. What you need to do is to use the data that has been collected. This means analyzing the performance data in order to be able to understand what it is trying to tell you.

The ultimate goal of any data collection process is to be able to provide you with information that may not be readily apparent to you. You want the data to provide you with insights and opportunities for improvement that you may not be aware of. Taking the time to collect, analyze, and then study the results will provide you with this information.

What Does All Of This Mean For You

No product manager is an island. We are only able to accomplish what we need to do by getting other people to do what we need them to do for us. In order to manage the people that we need to help us to make our product a success, there are three things that we need to do well that really should be a part of every product manager job description.

The first is to set targets that we then communicate to everyone. Establishing benchmarks will allow everyone to see that we’re making progress towards a product goal. We need to create incentives in order to get those people who we need to help us to prioritize helping us over the other things that they need to be working on. Finally, as product managers we need to always be monitoring what is being accomplished for our product in order to find ways to make improvements.

It turns out that managing the people that we need to help us make our product a success is not all that difficult. However, what it does take is persistence on our part. It doesn’t matter if they work for us or not, we need to use the position of product manager to provide the leadership that they need in order to help us.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: If someone is not working towards your product goals, what steps should you take to correct the problem?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m currently in charge of a team of skilled product development professionals who spend their time helping me to refine my product development definition. They each have their own set of skills that they bring to my product and I need each of them to be operating at peak efficiency if I want to have any hope of my product being a success. However, I’m currently facing a big problem: two members of my team flat out don’t get along with each other. What’s a product manager to do?

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