The Cranky Product Manager knows an individual — let’s call him The Asshole Product Manager (APM for short) — who once committed that most grievous of product management sins: pissing off development.
We’re not talking about an ordinary “pissing off” here. This was big — well beyond the annoyance that developers typically feel when their PM asks for an idiotic new feature at the 11th hour of a release. No, that oh-so-typical tension pales in comparison to how Engineering felt about the APM. This was extraordinary; mammoth, even. A level of pissed-offishness that defied reason. Maybe you’d even call it hate.
How did the APM do it? How did he rise to such high levels of intense animosity? How did he sink to such low levels of respect?
Allow the Cranky PM to recount actual quotes from this ghastly creature’s mouth:
“I’m pleased to introduce the new features for MY product, the <generic product name here>.”
“This feature here is really cool. The idea for it came to me while I was vacationing in the Cote d’Azur.”
“I decided to have my team work on this great feature first. Next I’ll get them to work on Y.”
“<Insert Sales VP name>, the reason the release is late is because Development isn’t doing its job.”
Comments like these liberally peppered the APM’s presentations to higher-ups and customers. Each time she heard them, the Cranky PM nearly gagged from the pungent bullshit smell emitted by the APM. Who knew that the APM was the creative force behind these bold new products, that all the credit was due to him (unless the product sucked, of course)? Who knew the APM controlled such a large team of developers — that they reported to him?
Although the APM’s words were not outright lies, and even might be “technically” correct, they were definitely not true. He deliberately misled to make his own role seem that more important. Development knew about it and hated the APM for it.
And now for the Cranky Lesson of the Day:
The product belongs to the entire team, not the Product Manager. Because the Product Manager might be the most visible member of the team (getting quoted in the industry magazines and giving presentations to the Board, etc.), the Product Manager has a responsibility to promote the team as well as the product. She must highlight their herculean efforts and amazing results, give credit and praise early and often, deal with team conflicts and problems in a respectful, private manner, and not hang the team out to dry when bad news is coming down the pike.
It’s simple, common decency. Developers will despise any product manager who does not, at least, afford them that.