Around me I hear a lot of people who want to become product managers, did the transition recently, I am currently recruiting and I get many contacts for mentoring the transition to this role. I am aware that social media algorithms and naturally humans tend to surround each other with similar tribes of people, however I thought it was time to kill the cliché around product management nowadays and put brakes on this trend from my perspective.
Here are my 7 reasons you should not become a product manager:
- You think you will be the CEO of the product and take all decisions
Product Management is a team sport! You will have a team of excellent Engineers, Quality Analysts, and work closely with Product Designers. They are experts in their craft, and if you think you should make all decisions, please stay away from product management for the sake of your teams.
- You think you will do “Stakeholder Management”
Trust me your stakeholders don’t need to be managed, they are not children! In many other roles you need to work with people. In product management, it is about communicating clearly milestones and steps necessary to solve complex cross functional problems and manage expectations. Lots of time people working outside of tech believe things are easier than what they are. “Let’s do a landing page on CMS, a Zapier integration and we are good! Why do you need a month???” Low tech solutions are excellent to test hypotheses but usually not scalable and have very little to do with building complex products.
- You are super attached to your ideas
Ideas are not owned. Have you ever noticed how many times different people come up with the same ideas? Detach yourself from it. Embrace the collective consciousness! Excellent product managers talk about assumptions and hypotheses to be proven by User Research, Quantitative Data and Iterative Testing. This one is tough in a world where we still believe Edison was one of the greatest Inventors (he stole most inventions, added his business acumen to it, he was also not a great person).
- You feel it is about brainstorming on Miro and knowing the theory of Product Life Cycles
Sorry for you but I know plenty of people that can create a presentation with ideas and read a book about Product Management. I know less that are excellent at executing. Product management is a lot about execution and delivery! It can be less sexy to think you will have to go into details of every single requirement and understand all the underlying aspects, most of the time to kill the ideas, descope them… but that will be your job! Miro can still be your best friend 😉
- You believe you have to be very technical
Yes you will be working with talented engineers, or what you do is not product management. However, you are not a tech lead, you are not an engineer manager, you are not technical project manager. One of the reasons the role exist, is to represent the business impact and give a scope of must-haves in the user experience. Being interested in how APIs, Database, Html-CSS logic work is important, helping the tech teams to understand the why and the expected results for the users is your role.
- You want to be told what to do by your manager
Ownership and embracing responsibilities are key soft skills if you want to be an excellent product manager. Sometimes you will have to do things that are not in your role description only to get things done. You also have to be ready to challenge your manager and other company leaders!
- You will get frustrated if people do not understand what you do!
It is not a new role anymore. Nevertheless, if you will read different product manager job offers, compare a product manager in a start up of 10 people or in a 1000+ Tech company, understand the difference between Product Manager and Product Owner, between a B2B and a B2C product, you’ll see clearly a unique product manager role is a legend. Your role will also to make sure the product craft is understood in the organisation with a strong Roadmap Update process and Communication away from feature lists. Find your preferred work environment too!
I will conclude that product managers are asked to be superstars that understand all the crafts of a company from Technical, to Accountability, passing by Marketing, Sales and of course Data Analysis, as well as the egos of the founders! Excellent product managers are great empaths and usually have multipotentialite personalities. It is not an easy role. All of that being written, I will not exchange it for any other crafts!
All of this is only my humble opinion, and I don’t pretend it to be the unique truth. I’ll be happy to have kind and respectful debates!
Let me know what you think and if you want to know more feel free to contact me.