We called him “Rodney.” It may have been cruel but this guy got no respect at work. Loud and rude and always asking for a special favor or seeking a shortcut to get something he wanted. He made more noise in his cube than a rowdy heckler at a comedy club. You can probably guess where the nickname came from — this former co-worker sounded a lot like late comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
I do not envy substitute teachers. While most of the class will follow the new leader, there are always a few kids who misbehave in ways they would not dare with the “regular” teacher. It is a job with lots of responsibility yet limited authority. Product managers can probably relate.
One day. Then two more. Still silence. This was several years ago when I was working at a large software company. I had sent an email to a colleague, hoping to address an important customer question about an advanced feature. The silent treatment continued. I was busy but I finally figured it out. Can you guess what happened next?
“You cannot improve what you do not measure.” This is what I wrote the first time I asked our team at Aha! to evaluate our own company. I wanted to know how people really thought and felt. Not just polite conversation — honest opinions. So, we sent out our first Employee Lovability Survey. What does that mean? Good question.
I have some bad news. And it will not be surprising for most product managers. Our job frequently involves telling people things they do not want to hear. In fact, I would say the job of a product manager involves more difficult conversations than most. Even communicating what some would consider very bad news.
My friend Mary recently shared a recurring nightmare. It involved a twisted metamorphosis into a donkey. It was Disney’s fault — specifically, the film Pinocchio. You know, the scene where the mischievous boys transform into jackasses? It scared the heck out of her as a kid. But these days a different type of donkey haunts my friend.
“Do not bring me problems. Bring me solutions.” I am sure you have heard this mantra at work before. In most cases, the thinking is that problems will only make the boss look bad. Well, something looks bad all right — the boss’s “do not bother me” attitude. So what do you do?
“Clairvoyant Humanist and Life Consultant.” I got a LinkedIn request from someone with this “title” the other day. Well, I am no clairvoyant. But I can predict one thing. The offbeat title will raise eyebrows — as well as suspicion about this person’s level of professionalism.
“Increased social media followers by 4,000 percent. Boosted website traffic by 3,500 percent.” I see puffed up metrics like this all the time. Especially on resumes submitted by people applying for marketing roles. While I appreciate the instinct to show results, what do these eye-popping numbers really mean?
“Quick, hide!” You hear the whispered warning from your co-worker. The hawkish boss is circling the office again — hunting for intel and ready to swoop. He sees no problem with preying on his own employees to get what he wants. Squawking about status updates being delivered at the end of each day, he claws his way into every meeting and conversation.
“I have some feedback for you.” When you hear these words, do you go into fight or flight mode? Maybe you are a runner. You think about an escape route. So you defensively scramble for a convenient excuse to avoid the discussion entirely. Read more…
So you want to be a product manager? I can understand why. It is an exciting path for ambitious folks who want to make a real impact. If I was starting my career over, I would choose product management again and get to it faster. And I would do it with more confidence knowing what I know now.