Product Camp: Getting Promoted to Director

This Product Camp discussion focused on career ladders for product managers, what directors do that’s different from their individual contributors, and how to signal your interest if you want that next job up. Several participants raised real-world issues, and product veterans sharing their hard-won points of view.

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Organizational Thank-Yous

Thanking people for their good work is one of the most powerful, least used tools we have at the office. Here’s one organizationally-minded way to share appreciation.

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A VP Product’s Checklist

VPs of Product Management have to create the conditions for individual product managers to succeed. This includes organizational, process, hiring/mentoring and cross-functional leadership — plus buy-in at every level. What goes on a new VP’s checklist?

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Prioritization Requires Strategy

Team-level priorities and backlogs need to be anchored to broader technical and business goals. Here’s how one product leader is getting her various pieces lined up.

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Get a Mentor, Be a Mentor

Gray beard

There’s been a lot of good chatter in the PM-osphere about the need for mentoring. If you’re looking for a product management mentor, be clear about your needs and goals. If you can be a mentor, please pitch in.

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Delegate, Trust, Verify, Protect

whac-a-mole

There’s an infinitely long list of things that product managers ‘should do.’ Take a look at any product management framework or job description. We rarely say, but clearly know, that it all can’t get done. How can we effectively delegate?

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Strategically Clogged Backlogs

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Among the urgent calls from software teams to me for interim product leadership is a variety that I call “systemic product failure” or “strategically clogged backlog.” I dealt with this twice in 2011, so it’s worth describing for other product folks: sh*t isn’t getting done, product managers are drowning (or have been let go), and engineering is dangerously disconnected from internal stakeholders and customers. Software isn’t shipping, and backlogs are growing. This may not look like a product management breakdown, but it really is… and identifying its organizational/structural roots is key to turning the situation around. If you’re moving to a new product team within your company, or joining a new company that lacks strong product management, watch for systemic…

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Leadership, Trust and Pronouns

I’m struck by the words people choose, and by how their pronouns reflect their management style. In particular, I’m working with a team that’s been hungry for leadership and trust – and is now blossoming. This provides me with an excuse to recap what we all (should) know about leadership, trust, and how the words we use shape the behavior of our organizations. A thoughtful choice between “I” and “we” and “you” is a reflection of the workplace emotional temperature: are managers and executives motivating line employees to do their best, or “throwing them under the bus?” Are we rewarding cross-functional cooperation and market impact, or angling for promotion and impressing our peers?

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