The (hidden) roles of a Product Manager
Product management theory is simpler than it seems. But in reality, everything is much harder. One of the reasons: PMs end up doing a lot of things “theory” doesn’t cover. Things like:
- Team psychologist - often your team will have to do stuff they don’t like, struggle with squad members, be disheartened with the roadmap, go through bad quarters. You gotta bring them up.
- Performance Coach - Shipping takes time. Time wears people out. The last stretch is usually longer and everyone is tired. You have to keep everyone up and pumped.
- Firefighter- Sh*t happens. Planning doesn’t cover all edge cases. Some “things” are nobody’s role. It’s up to you to fill the gaps and put out the fires.
- Small town mayor - Getting “the town” (aka eng/PM/PD/Data etc) aligned on what needs to get done. It’s about saying what needs to be said. It’s about rallying everyone to keep the “town” moving.
- Union leader - your users/customers are members of your union. You need to keep them “enrolled”. You need to defend their interests. Especially regarding decisions that could leave them worst off.
- School janitor - your role is about getting your team to run as fast as possible. Cleaning up the obstacles (and keeping a tidy environment) is on you, otherwise everyone either falls or walks slowly.
You won’t be rewarded if you do this (as it’s not part of the PM role job description) but you will be punished (as in failing outcomes/not delivering outputs, team unhappiness, etc) if you fail to do it.
And I bet a lot of other careers and roles look exactly the same, but your company doesn’t understand it. If this is you, then hustle through, you’re all heroes.