There are so many books and blogs on how to be a good product manager. But so few have realistic, pratical advice.
Most of the blogs and books I read about how to become a better product manager discuss skills such as ‘communication’ and ‘trust’. They say you, as the product manager, have to lead your team through hardship and make the hard decisions. But as a junior product manger, a lot of this advice seem abstract and not very practical. Product management is also a skill and as every skill goes, there are some simple, practical tips you can apply to your workflow to advance your skillset.
- Don’t write everything. Draw and organize.
A fatal mistake I made when I first started working was to write down all the tasks we needed to do in a bullet point format. I would explain each task in writing, as specifically as I could so no confusion would be caused. It turns out this is a horrible way to organize the tasks you and your team needs to do.
A. People are busy. They don’t have time to read through your long explanation and so they skim through it, skipping through details.
B. Even if they do read it throughly, the longer it gets, the higher probability that people will understand it differently.
I changed from simply writing down the tasks to making organized charts with a unified format. Instantly the tasks became more readable and miscommunication levels decreased.
2. Make your meetings small
Another mistake I made was making my meetings large by inviting everyone related to the project to a single meeting. The problem that occured in such an event was that those who had a loud voice or were higher in status were the people who would talk the most. The lower level members who actually had the implement the tasks would normally stay silent until the end of the meeting, when they would finally message me asking me questions.
I figured out a meeting shouldn’t get larger than 6 people for everyone to properly be given a chance to talk. If there is a large group of people in a room, many people become wary of saying the wrong things or simply think someone else will eventually say what they have in mind. So even if they disagree with something or have a different perspectively, they hardly ever raise their hand to speak.
If you want to get everyone in a meeting properly involved, you need to make your meeting small and compact.
As a product manger, you’re always going to have to manage various tasks and teams at once. It soon becomes a mess if you don’t prioritize which tasks to do first and which to do later. I would normally organize such priorities with a chart and explain it to each team I would be working with.
Communication here is essential as you need to explain why exactly you prioritized some tasks while others are going to be put on the shelf for a while. There are going to be some people who are eager to jump on the tasks that you’ve prioritized to do later and they can become frustrated. You have to explain to them why other tasks are more urgent for the success of the project as a whole.
There are so many other ways to advance your product managing skills but I wanted to share 3 simple ones I learned along my career. I hope you can try implementing and testing them out for yourself. Cheers!