How can I show my value as a new product manager trainee in a startup that has little to no structure, particularly in the area of product management. Currently working at an edtech company. Any advice on how I can break-free of being a PM by name and not by responsibility? How can I assert myself without seeming like I am shirking responsibilities that I do not believe speak to the core of my being there?
A product manager is the person who identifies the customer need and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfill, articulates what success looks like for a product, and rallies a team to turn that vision into a reality.
The confusion about what a product manager is likely stems from the recency of the role. Where practitioners of more established crafts, like design and engineering, have been able to segment themselves by their specialization, product managers are still defining what the role should be.
Specific responsibilities vary depending on the size of the organization. In larger organizations, for instance, product managers are embedded within teams of specialists. Researchers, analysts, and marketers help gather input, while developers and designers manage the day-to-day execution, draw up designs, test prototypes, and find bugs. These product managers have more help, but they also spend more time aligning these stakeholders behind a specific vision.
On the flip side, product managers at smaller organizations spend less time getting everyone to agree, but more time doing the hands-on work that comes with defining a vision and seeing it through.
Broadly speaking, though, a good product manager will spend his or her time on a handful of tasks.
- Understanding and representing user needs.
- Monitoring the market and developing competitive analyses.
- Defining a vision for a product.
- Aligning stakeholders around the vision for the product.
- Prioritizing product features and capabilities.
- Creating a shared brain across larger teams to empower independent decision-making.
Having said that, in your particular case, you will have to take the initiative and find your way out of the maze and prove your worth and your presence. I hope I was able to motivate you enough to show them what you really can.
All the best.
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