Finding Your Sweet Spot: Managing Product Managers and Approaching Product Strategy

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

Sep 25, 20233 min read

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Finding Your Sweet Spot: Managing Product Managers and Approaching Product Strategy

Leading a product management team requires a unique set of skills. It is more similar to managing managers than managing individual contributors. As a manager, you need to define your boundaries and determine what areas you should personally keep an eye on. This also means identifying areas where you should give your product managers more autonomy.

To start, you can transition from defining the strategy alone to leading a thinking effort with a product manager who is ready. This allows them to take the lead while you provide guidance and support. Instead of providing all the answers, ask guiding questions and let the product managers come up with the solutions. This not only empowers them but also encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Micro-management can be a common pitfall for managers, but it can be overcome. One approach is to ask yourself the worst-case scenario in monitoring something less closely. Often, you'll find that loosening your grip and trusting your team can lead to better results. Trusting your team members and giving them the space to excel can lead to innovation and growth.

As a manager, your role is not to be invisible. It's important to be involved and engaged in the process. Don't be afraid to "interfere" if you know why you are doing it and how it adds value to the process. Effective management is about finding the right balance between autonomy and guidance.

Now let's shift our focus to product strategy. Approaching product strategy requires a deep understanding of your context and constraints. If you're a small startup with limited resources, casting a wide net as a product strategy may spread your efforts too thin. Instead, focus on finding one small thing you can excel at that aligns with customer and market needs. Use this as a starting point to learn, grow, and scale.

Collecting and utilizing feedback is crucial in crafting an effective product strategy. Listen to your customers and use their feedback to convert potential customers into loyal supporters. Build a roadmap based on optimizing value and minimizing friction and barriers. Continuously iterate on this process to ensure that your product strategy remains aligned with the evolving needs of your customers.

One common approach is to focus on solving a pain point in a specific part of the customer journey. By concentrating your team's energy, expertise, and resources on this area, you can maximize your return on investment and achieve your goals more efficiently.

In conclusion, managing product managers requires setting boundaries, providing guidance, and finding the right balance between autonomy and involvement. Trusting your team and empowering them to take the lead can lead to innovation and growth. Additionally, approaching product strategy involves understanding your context, gathering feedback, and focusing on solving specific pain points. By implementing these actionable strategies, you can effectively lead your product management team and drive success in your product strategy.

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