Product Managers sometimes have a bad reputation when it comes to Development teams — and we often unintentionally earn these reputations, by the way that we work with them. There are, however some things that Product Managers can do to build a strong relationship with their development teams — something that is, in fact, essential to the success of the product and your company as a whole. Here are five tips that you can use to ensure that you have the best relationship possible with your development teams:
Several times in my career, I’ve joked to someone or another that my next job title will be “Senior Cat Herder” rather than “Senior Product Manager” — and for good reason. Cats, for all of their cuddly cuteness, are independent problem solvers, much like most of the better developers that I’ve worked with.
Add to the problem the fact that as a Product Manager we typically don’t have any direct authority over our development teams — while we can prioritize the work that they’re charged with doing, and we can (sometimes) influence the way in which they build their solutions to the problems that we’ve stated, we lack the kind of direct management influence that lends itself to “control” over those teams. And, when a Product Manager who doesn’t have such authority oversteps his or her boundaries, and becomes a directive manager of those development and testing teams, it’s almost inevitable that it backfires, amidst charges of “micromanagement” and “you’re not my boss!”
And, ultimately, they’re right – you’re not their boss. You’re their colleague. Like it or not, you’re a fellow cat, not some pack leader of a wolf clan.