We spend a lot of time sharing ideas and information about the skills you need in product management, how to break into the industry, find your dream job and what to do once you’re in. What we don’t always bring up are all the things to avoid as product manager at all costs, especially if you want to maintain your valued credibility.
If you find yourself at the job you’ve worked hard to obtain and are feeling like you’re struggling in some areas or are losing the respect from your team, do a quick self-check, maybe getting rid of some bad habits will clear the way for your success.
Thinking you are the customer
You’re in the business of building products for customers, and you have to remember that you are not the end user in the development-use cycle. Learn to take yourself out of the equation and focus on the real facts and data that support creating something people want. Stay away from planning based on the idea that “this feature will be cool to have.” No matter how “cool” it is, this doesn’t mean it will make your customers happy. Know who your target is, and build for their delight.
Building your roadmap strategy by your intuition alone
This goes back to thinking a feature will be cool to have. You may have intuition when it comes to creating an awesome product, but you also need to back that gut feeling with some data. The desired end result is customer happiness which leads to sales, which keep the lights on. Implement A/B testing strategies, feature requests based on valuable user stories, and feedback from your team. Then build your roadmap based on that plus your intuition. Side note: don’t base all your decisions on data alone. Find the balance.
Assuming the vision is all yours
You are there to support your team, remove roadblocks and give them the freedom to build. Stay humble and empathetic. Don’t prioritize a feature over another just because it was your idea. Let your developers tell you how they can add features and what they have in mind, and don’t be afraid to work with a team that is smarter than you. This will go a long way when it comes to getting everyone on board with your product and influencing your stakeholders.
Using fancy tech jargon and over-the-top designs to get to your point
Why? It makes you look worse. Your job is to tell the product story, explain how much the user experience will improve, and the end results of the new feature or addition, such as more sign-ups, in-app purchases, better retention rate etc… In the art of storytelling, we know it’s important to be clear and concise, and be able to explain the “why” well enough to express how the action will drive business results.
Doing everything your CEO, customers, team and mother ask
You should probably do most everything your mother asks, but when it comes to building your roadmap, it’s important to take ideas into account, then back up suggestions with data. Get comfortable with saying “no”. If you accept every task or additional feature suggested, you’ll never have a finished product. Often in product management, done is better than perfect, so leave space to have a finished product, A/B test potential features, then make version 2.0 or updates based on intelligent qualitative and quantitative data.