"Practical Ways to Earn Respect and Manage Expectations as a Product Manager"

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

May 28, 2024

4 min read


"Practical Ways to Earn Respect and Manage Expectations as a Product Manager"

In the fast-paced world of product management, earning respect and managing expectations are crucial for success. Whether you're a seasoned professional or starting a new role with no prior experience, there are practical ways to navigate these challenges and become a respected leader in your field.

One way to earn respect as a product manager is to embrace your role as a facilitator. In conversations with engineers or other team members, it's important to acknowledge the limits of your knowledge. Instead of pretending to know everything, be transparent about your expertise and encourage others to share their insights. By setting the expectation that you'll need a non-technical summary at the end of the discussion, you show humility and a willingness to learn from others. This approach not only builds trust but also allows you to gain a better understanding of the key challenges and takeaways.

Another valuable approach is to leverage your lack of domain-specific knowledge. When starting a new role in an unfamiliar industry, you have the advantage of not being bound by pre-existing notions of how things should be done. Use this lack of knowledge to your strategic advantage by asking questions, challenging assumptions, and thinking outside the box. By bringing a fresh perspective to the table, you can spark innovative ideas and drive meaningful change within your organization.

While being agreeable and open to different opinions is important, there are also times when product managers need to assert themselves. Applying pressure and pushing for results is a key aspect of the role. Shopify, for example, embraces the principle of "Get Shit Done." This mindset emphasizes the importance of taking action and delivering results. By adopting a similar approach, you can demonstrate your commitment to achieving goals and earn the respect of your team members.

In addition to earning respect, managing expectations is essential for success as a product manager. Often, our expectations can lead to disappointment, as actual experiences tend to fall flat compared to the thrill of anticipation. This is due to the way dopamine works in our brains, constantly seeking new and exciting experiences. To combat this, it's important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your team. Understand that not every project will be groundbreaking or revolutionary. Celebrate small wins and focus on continuous improvement rather than constantly chasing the next big thing.

Managing expectations also involves challenging the status quo. People are often resistant to change and prefer to stick with what they know. However, as a product manager, it's your responsibility to identify areas for improvement and push for change. This may involve challenging long-standing processes, questioning traditional ways of thinking, and embracing innovation. By doing so, you can create a culture of continuous improvement and exceed the expectations of your stakeholders.

While earning respect and managing expectations are ongoing challenges, there are actionable steps you can take to succeed in these areas:

  • 1. Foster open communication: Encourage a culture of transparency and collaboration within your team. Create a safe space for everyone to share their insights and opinions, fostering a sense of respect and trust.
  • 2. Set clear goals and expectations: Clearly define project goals and expectations from the start. This will help align everyone on the same page and avoid misunderstandings down the line. Regularly communicate progress and provide feedback to ensure everyone is on track.
  • 3. Embrace feedback and continuous improvement: Actively seek feedback from your team, stakeholders, and customers. Use this feedback to iterate and improve your products and processes. By constantly striving to learn and grow, you'll earn the respect of those around you and exceed expectations.

In conclusion, earning respect and managing expectations are essential skills for product managers. By embracing your role as a facilitator, leveraging your lack of domain-specific knowledge, and applying pressure when needed, you can earn the respect of your team members and drive meaningful change. Additionally, by setting realistic expectations, challenging the status quo, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, you can exceed expectations and achieve long-term success as a product manager.

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