An Aspiring PM, but not a PM yet, my manager advised me to become a PM

Hello everyone. This is my first post on this platform and it’s a bit lengthy. But I need your assistance and guidance, as I’m really out of breath with what I’m about to post here.

A renowned digital product agency hired me as a website manager for my new position. It’s a new world. All internal product development is done in house between client projects, which means it has mostly gone unnoticed. Even before the planning, the site was designed. Although it’s cool, it is clearly not usable.

My manager described how he sees our team managing the website as any other product they would create for a customer. He then began using industry jargon that I had spent the weekend reading since I am not a PM, and I cannot stress this enough. I did not promote myself as such. He highlighted the fact that I’ve always worked for small, resource-constrained organizations or for myself as a justification for hiring me.

Now, I am at a top product agency with limitless resources and talent.

And I am completely out of my depth.

My boss gave me the task of creating a backlog of features, problems, tools, functionality, etc. after stating that he wanted to position me as a PM. Everything, from the little to the great to the crazy, that I believe the website and our team require to best represent the firm.

Here is a snippet of some of the other things he mentioned: User accounts, backlog grooming, graphical hierarchy, Roadmaps: general and high-level, maintenance vs long term vs quick wins, UX review.

He also desires to provide a truncated version of their client processes that we can employ going forward.

I suppose I’m wondering, “What now?” What is he even talking about, anyway?

My first impulse is to head to GA to determine my next course of action, but that’s not yet optimised. Making customized UTM parameters with marketing is the topic of my first meeting this week. They had no idea that was even conceivable.

I feel silly even asking my new coworkers about this, or even bringing it up in this Prowess Community discussion. My imposter syndrome is at an all-time high at the moment. What, though, can I bring to my 1:1 this week to demonstrate that I’m not a total moron?

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Take some product management courses on Udemy, then just go for it. You can finish them over the span of a weekend and will understand considerably more of what your boss is saying. I believe you can succeed, but you must have a plan. After engaging in some structured learning, develop a strategy for how you’re going to address the particular issues facing your business.

I would also seek for a mentor at the company or some other kind of support, and I would set expectations a little lower with your manager. They should not be surprised by your request for assistance and patience as they are aware that you are not a PM. Discuss your efforts to improve your skills and ask your manager if there are any areas or subjects that they believe should receive the most attention given your situation since you don’t currently need to appear across as competent.

If you choose not to take on these obligations, you risk losing your job or at the very least passing on significant career advancement.

Oh, and if you decide to take on those duties, I hope they offer you the real title and pay of a PM.

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Welcome to the wonderful platform, exclusively for Product Managers, Prowess @MelissaJames. I hope you feel like it being here.

Your post here indicates that your PM abilities are primitive and inadequate. That’s okay; we all start somewhere, and the justifications you gave for your hiring are frequently solid foundations on which to build exceptional project managers.

Remind your boss that this is not the role you were interviewed for and that these are not the abilities you promised when you joined the company. Reassure him that you remain committed to becoming a valuable team member at the same time. Then let him know that you will require formal PM training.

I won’t suggest any particular courses or frameworks here, I’d be happy to talk about anything related to your work that you’re interested in.

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Thank you so much @MichaelYoffe and @DhirajMehta.

I’m really interested in the additional training and development he had suggested for me to become a PM.

I don’t want to restrict anyone’s progress right now, though. I believe that the best course of action is to just sit down with my designated “work buddy,” a UX designer, and ask her to explain the entire client development process to me.

The fact that different teams have different opinions on how internal product delivery should go is one problem I’ve discovered. While design handles everything through “feeling,” developers desire more structure. We don’t have a delivery manager on staff, so marrying all of this up without knowing exactly how it should operate sounds like a tremendous undertaking.

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The age-old issue of engineering and design reflecting the two extremes of the structure spectrum has never been resolved. But you’ll figure out a way to overcome that with time.

Additionally, let the team know that you are developing your skills for the position and follow up frequently to seek their opinion on your improvement.

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Knowing that applies to the entire industry is a relief. In the past, I would discredit attractive but ineffective design concepts with quite simple statistics. However, I’m now collaborating with actual experts in user testing. It’s fantastic and terrifying all at same.

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A warm welcome to the community @MelissaJames.

Congrats on the promotion lol this a golden opportunity for many upstarts. While it may seem daunting, be open with your need for training either internal from your manager or via external.

It’s a good problem to have and I really hope you come to see it as a blessing vs daunting

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Welcome aboard @Melissa.

Designers empowered to conduct user testing are an interesting beast to make a bed with. Very powerful. Typically, a kind of whiplash occurs as you figure out how to get the most out of them. You will first let them drive the bus far too frequently before realizing that you created something incredibly stylish and cool that doesn’t address any issues. Then you’ll swing too far the other way and start to seriously doubt their advice. The key is to constantly ensure that everyone on the team is aware of the specific business problem you are attempting to address.

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Wow! How did you know exactly what’s happening? You’re some kind of sage. “ensure that everyone on the team is aware of the specific business problem,” is the sentence I needed. You’re a legend.

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@MelissaJames, I build product managers for a living. :slight_smile:

Most powerful arrow in your quiver will be questions. Since nobody works for you, you can’t issue orders. Getting people to think about “who is this for?” And “what problem are we solving for them?” Are the core questions.

Read “never split the difference” by Chris Voss. Of all the books you could consume, that one will teach you new things for the rest of your career.

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Are you me?

I had a pretty identical talk with my manager. They are urging me to enroll in product management classes and advance to a PM position.

The company will reimburse me up to a predetermined sum, so they asked me to choose anything I wanted to take.

Even though I’m on the product team, my present position is in support operations.

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@AlbertChappel, This is super cool! Would try it out, you can always go back to doing what you’re doing now if you don’t like it

There’s a good list to start from here.

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Thanks for the helpful list @PaulineFrancis.

The first few programs I looked into were way beyond my budget so it’s great that this site includes the price ranges so I don’t waste time researching something out of reach.

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Welcome aboard @MelissaJames. This is fantastic, and you’ll succeed admirably. To understand and align the team on goals, or the reasons why you are constructing things, would be a fantastic starting step, in my opinion. When everyone is on the same page with regard to direction, it is much simpler to set priorities, make choices, and win support.

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A warm welcome to the Prowess platform @MelissaJames.

In a startup, the PM role is one of the most powerful and important.

I’ve been on the receiving end of senior management telling me to take on responsibility for something I don’t have experience with and something I’d rather not do a few times.

But I just pretend to be successful until I actually am.

These product management resources were useful to me during my career.

PMs frequently have to wear several hats due to startups’ constantly shifting environments. As far as I can tell, there are three different types of PMs:

  1. PM is the “doer.” This kind of PM is a generalist who can perform any task required by the business. These PMs are excellent for startups that require someone who can swiftly and easily step into any function.

  2. The PM’s “procedure.” This kind of PM focuses on developing systems, tools, and processes for each stage of product development so that team members may seamlessly transition between responsibilities.

  3. The PM with “vision.” Future-focused, this type of PM is aware of how to get there. They are in a position to decide with great clarity which features should be added next, who should do it, and when. They know what needs to be done and how to achieve it with a laser-like focus.

Decide what kind of PM you are first, and then just pretend till you succeed.

Most of us have experienced being in the same situation at some point. I hope the tools offered do their best to offer you some guidance based on my personal experience. I hope it’s helpful!

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Thank you all for your encouraging comments and wonderful insights. Really appreciate the time you’ve taken to post in this thread. @NathanEndicott, I’m really grateful. I recognize myself as a Process PM right away. When I worked as a freelance web manager for a while, one of my USPs was that I would put things in a spot where essentially anyone could take over, be it the receptionist, the marketing, or an intern.