Understand motivation, customize communication, and build trust to be an effective product manager.
During each podcast episode, I always share that this podcast is… “where product leaders and managers make their move to product masters, learning practical knowledge that leads to more influence and confidence so you’ll create products customers love.”
That’s an important relationship: knowledge, influence, and confidence. We need those three things to be successful creating products.
So, it’s not surprising that when I saw an article on the Mind the Product blog titled, “5 Tips for Product Managers Who Want to Influence Quickly,” it caught my attention.
The author is Bridget McMullan, and she is here to discuss how we can quickly influence others whom we need to support our product ideas and plans. She is a partner at Upfront Work, a product management consultancy, and has spent more than 10 years developing and manufacturing innovative consumer products with Fortune 500 companies, including Foot Locker, Craftsman (Sears), Johnson & Johnson and others.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers:
[6:35] How does influence relate to individual motivation?
For a while, people called product managers mini-CEOs, but the reality is that product managers help create clarity across multiple teams and provide speed. As products become more complex, there needs to be someone to connect the dots across multiple teams, personalities, and skillsets. One of the things I realized was that I treated everyone individually. You really need to understand each person you’re working with in the same way you understand your customer.
[9:50] How do you understand someone’s motivation?
I always set up one-on-one meetings. Be a human and explain what your background is and where the connection is to them. You need to understand who the person is and how you’ll interact with them. What makes them get stuff done? What makes them shine? If you can understand those things, it will benefit them and the team.
[14:50] How do you customize communication to each person you’re working with?
If someone’s individual motivation is to get promoted because they’ve been at the company for five years, you can think about how you can advocate for them. Maybe you invite them to present to leadership or lift them up in another way. You need to apply that to anyone you’re working with, or even to a whole team. Be open to what’s really happening and how you can help people while still getting the work done.
[21:00] How do you use repeated stories?
When you are customizing communication to individuals, you need to constantly remind people about the overarching goals for the project and the product. You need to hammer home what the vision is. It needs to be engaging, which is why storytelling works so well. Everyone needs to know what they’re driving to, and the best way to do that is to say it over and over again.
[25:34] How do you build trust?
Establishing trust means advocating for individuals to others, and staying true to your word. Trust means blending credibility with being human. The human part means advocating for others and lifting them up among peers and leadership. It’s not always easy and you have to use your personality to build the human side before you can bring trust into the equation.
- Bridget’s article on Mind the Product, 5 Tips for Product Managers Who Want to Influence Quickly
- Connect with Bridget via LinkedIn
- Bridget’s group, Upfront Work
“It’s not innovation if it doesn’t launch.” –Unknown
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.