When starting at a new company, even the best product manager finds herself in an awkward position — the position where most of the developers don’t listen to her and disrespect her. While this is a temporary condition for the successful product managers, some are never able to dig out from this living grave.
So, let the Cranky Product Manager help. Gather ’round and sit at the feet of the CPM whilst she bestows her big-league wisdom upon your sweet little ears. Wait with baited breath as she whispers in your ear the Secret of Gaining the Respect of Development.
Step 1: Stop being an Asshole.
For some of you, this might require a personality transplant. The CPM recommends you request a personality that is neither overly extroverted nor excessively introverted, easy to get along with yet somewhat stubborn, detail-oriented yet able to see the big picture, market-minded yet technical, diplomatic yet daring, a risk-taker but ultimately sensible, a visionary yet pragmatic.
In other words, get yerself a personality that excels in its middle-of-the-road-ness. A personality that has reached the pinnacle of mediocrity in all respects and revels in it. A personality that, lacking any strong characteristics, resembles tepid water in its complete nondescript-ishness and ability to go with any meal.
Don’t feel bad if you need a personality transplant. It won’t shock you to learn that the Cranky Product Manager needs one too. In her cranky old age she’s become too likely to say exactly what she thinks, much to her development team’s (and her boss’s) chagrin.
Step 2: Become an expert in the current customer base.
First, before the Pragmatic Marketing folks jump down the Cranky Product Manager’s throat and start screaming “be a MARKET EXPERT not a CUSTOMER EXPERT, you fraking IDIOT,” let the CPM explain: You gotta walk before you run.
Before the Code Boyz (and Grrlz) will accept the Neophyte PM’s market expertise as gospel, they first need to believe that the NPM actually knows the names of some customers. Because, for some reason, the Code Boyz/Grrlz assume that Product Managers have no clue about customers. This is because the average developer or development manager thinks it’s OBVIOUS what the customers want. After all, they actually MET two or three customers once, and maybe they even fixed a few bugs at a customer’s request. And if you, the Neophyte Product Manager, disagree with the “obvious” course of action… well, then, it must be that you don’t know anything and are pulling requirements out of yer ass.
This is called “projection” in psychiatric circles. The Code Boy/Grrl who pulls requirements out of his/her posterior quarters or “gut” or whatever accuses the Neophyte Product Manager of doing the same.
The way out of this quagmire?
Learn WAY more about the current customers than the development team. Then, prove it to those hateahs beyond a shadow of a doubt. Club them over the head with your wellspring of customer knowledge. Until no one can deny you know yer shite.
Fortunately, becoming a customer expert does not take that long if you really concentrate on it. But the CPM is tired. Worn out from dealing with a screaming infant all day. And she’s not talking about her beloved spawn. Nay, she’s referring to her (usually) favorite sales engineer who has a major case of whiney-itis (a story for another day).
Happy Halloween and Peace out.