"A Product Manager's Guide to Working with Engineers: Amplifying Impact and Building Constructive Relationships"

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Sep 13, 2023

3 min read


"A Product Manager's Guide to Working with Engineers: Amplifying Impact and Building Constructive Relationships"


A product manager plays a crucial role in any organization, acting as a multiplier of engineering resources. By leveraging their intelligence and capabilities, they can amplify the skills and potential of the engineers they work with. In order to achieve this, it is essential for product managers to establish a relationship based on mutual respect and collaboration. In this article, we will explore the key principles and actionable advice for product managers to effectively work with engineers, fostering a productive and constructive environment.

Treat Engineers as Adults:

One of the fundamental aspects of building a successful relationship with engineers is treating them as adults. This means refraining from solving problems for them and instead acting as a sounding board to help them find solutions. Liz Wiseman, an expert in leadership, emphasizes the importance of breaking the parent-child relationship and empowering engineers to take ownership of their work. By recognizing their strengths and preferences, product managers can leverage their expertise and multiply their impact on the project.

Recognize Different Types of Individuals:

Every engineer is unique, with their own strengths, preferences, and ways of working. As a product manager, it is crucial to recognize and understand these differences. By doing so, you can tailor your approach and communication style to effectively collaborate with each individual. This personalized approach not only enhances productivity but also fosters a sense of empowerment and fulfillment among engineers.

Involve Engineers Early in the Thinking Process:

When developing a product, it is essential to involve engineers early in the thinking process. Their input on feasibility and technical constraints is invaluable and can prevent potential roadblocks down the line. By including engineers from the beginning, product managers can ensure that the final solution is both desirable for users and viable for the business. This collaborative approach also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among engineers, increasing their motivation and dedication to the project.

Give Engineers Space to Progress:

In order to maximize the impact of engineers, it is important to provide them with opportunities to take the lead role. Whether it's assigning them as an Epic Lead, Feature Owner, or Project Owner, giving engineers accountability for specific sets of tickets enhances their sense of ownership and responsibility. Additionally, they become responsible for managing and flagging risks and blockers to the product manager proactively. This not only empowers engineers but also allows product managers to focus on strategic decision-making, knowing that the technical aspects are in capable hands.

Invest in Good Engineering Managers:

While the relationship between product managers and engineers is crucial, it is equally important to invest in good engineering managers. These managers act as a bridge between product managers and engineers, ensuring effective communication, and resolving any conflicts or issues that may arise. By investing in engineering managers, organizations can create a nurturing environment that promotes collaboration, growth, and innovation.


Working effectively with engineers is a critical aspect of a product manager's role. By adopting a mindset of multiplying their impact, treating them as adults, recognizing individual strengths, involving them early in the thinking process, giving them space to progress, and investing in good engineering managers, product managers can foster constructive relationships and achieve successful product outcomes. By amplifying the intelligence and capabilities of engineers, product managers can drive innovation, meet user needs, and propel the organization forward.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Foster a culture of empowerment by treating engineers as adults, allowing them to find solutions rather than solving problems for them.
  • 2. Recognize and appreciate the unique strengths and preferences of each engineer, tailoring your approach and communication style accordingly.
  • 3. Involve engineers early in the thinking process to leverage their technical expertise, prevent roadblocks, and ensure a viable and desirable product.

Remember, building constructive relationships with engineers is a continuous process that requires ongoing effort and communication. By investing time and energy into these relationships, product managers can unleash the full potential of their engineering teams and drive meaningful impact.

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