It’s been more than a year and here are the things I wish I had known or had been told as I made this transition:
- It’s a completely different role
- Focus on getting things done more than doing things
- Be clear on what you are driving and what your team is driving
- Communicate! I thought I was good at it but managing a team requires more written communication, more documentation that I thought
- Read “Good group product manager, Dead Group Product Manager”
- Accountability – be explicit. Folks don’t just do the right thing.
Is this obvious? Probably to many but honestly it was not to me and I’ve managed a team before.
One of the difficult things for me is to make good habits stick. With the amount of travel I do, it’s been hard to hold the team accountable for their tasks. I have started to use Trello to track tasks assigned to the team. I love that you can email directly to a Trello board. This allows me to bcc task emails to the Trello board. A little bit of housekeeping later, I can remember to follow up on these tasks in 1 on 1s. Travel makes it harder to follow up on tasks. This is why a Group product manager role is very different from other management roles.
Also, you spend a lot of time prepping decks for internal pitches and driving alignment between various other groups in the company and championing your causes. Your wins and losses are public and drive team morale more than you think.