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Product manager engineering relationship management

product management teamwork Mar 17, 2022

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Flirting your way to a better product-engineering relationship

.. No, not that type of flirting that’ll get you a visit from HR! Skiplevel is a rated PG company mind you 😉

I mean the type of flirting where you show appreciation for the other person and literally say to your engineers:

| “What do you need from me to make your job easier?”

No, really. Those words verbatim. When was the last time you said those words to an engineer you worked with? Because let me tell you, those words are the best sweet-everythings an engineer wants to hear from their product manager, UX designer, operations, etc. that’ll instantly make them swoon.

And here’s why.

It shows you appreciate how difficult it is to build and maintain software.

Hopefully as you move through your career in tech, you start to get a sense of just how many factors and decisions go into building good software.. and not just building them, but maintaining them too.

It’s a lot to juggle so engineers are often overwhelmed.. which explains why they’re irritated every time anyone requests something of them and their automatic response tends to be “no”. It’s understandable given their overflowing backlog and how much time and effort it takes to implement even a seemingly simple feature!

This is why asking devs “how can I make your job easier for you?” has such a disarming effect. It’s refreshing to receive appreciation versus requests and complaints for once.

And that leads me to my next point..

It shows you’re willing to be an active part in enabling and supporting your engineering team.

One of the most important responsibilities of a product manager is to enable and support the engineering team to build the product. And what better way to show support than by actively taking part in the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

Not only are you showing appreciation for the work your engineering team is doing, but you’re also showing them you’re willing to take time out from your own schedule to help them with theirs.

And by golly, that’s some good flirtin’ if you ask me!

Here are just a few examples of tasks you can take off your engineer’s plates to enable them to do their best work:

  • Where possible, take over responding to user tickets. I was on a team that received tons of user tickets. Many of them were trivial questions that didn’t require a dev’s expertise to respond to, but still takes up time and effort to answer. These sorts of tasks can be handled by product managers instead to lighten the dev team’s load.
  • Write documentation. Documentation is a necessary step in the software development lifecycle. As the PM, take ownership of documenting the goals, user flows, and business side of the product before and during the build process. If you’re technical enough, also help with documenting APIs and how-to guides for how to use the product. This process will also help you better understand the product from a technical perspective and improve your technical skills!
  • Take over scrum master duty/processes. Processes enable work to be done in an organized manner, and they’re an important part of every team. Wherever you can, offer to come up with and/or clarify team processes, including taking over all or parts of scrum master duties during backlog grooming, sprint planning, and retrospectives.

Of course, every dev team and product is different; ask your engineers what items you can take off their plate and be play an active part in their success, which is ultimately your success.

Long story short, put on your best smile and get to flirting with your dev team, product managers!



Positive feedback is feedback too!

We often think of feedback as “critical feedback”, but positive feedback is just as important! Team cohesive and effective teamwork ultimately comes from a place of positivity and a sense of forward/upward momentum. It’s difficult to have these when just focusing on critical feedback. You want to know what you’re doing right along with ways you can improve. So as much as possible, ask for positive feedback like “What did you like about [x] that you’d like to see me continue doing?” and “What was your favorite part about [x]?”

If you want to level up your technical skills and your ability to communicate and collaborate with engineers, enroll in the Skiplevel program. The Skiplevel program is a comprehensive, on-demand course + community that helps you become more technical without learning how to code.


Become more technical without learning to code with the Skiplevel program.

The Skiplevel program is specially designed for the non-engineering professional to give you the strong technical foundation you need to feel more confident in your technical abilities in your day-to-day role and during interviews.

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