I first was drawn to product management for the following reasons
- Good training ground for entrepreneurship. I’ve always been somewhat entrepreneurial, and this is my long-term goal
- Really like the whole aspect of figuring out the “What” and “why” of building something that involves a lot of user research, competitive research…etc. The strategic aspects of positioning it…etc.
Lately, my current job has been frustrating me and I’m not sure if I’m in the right field anymore or if it’s specific to this particular company and find a new job somewhere else.
- The whole “stakeholder management” stuff is exhausting to me. I feel like I’m constantly herding sheep, dealing with politics, referring between teams, and chasing down information from certain stakeholders all the time that prevents me from shipping stuff.
- I’m responsible for 3-4 different products and they all have no relation to each other while others on the team have responsibility for maybe 1 big initiative. Using an analogy as if I were a PM at Facebook, it’s like I’m responsible for 2 features for the Messenger app, 1 feature for the Groups feature, or maybe a feature or 2 or product…etc. for the Ads platform for an SMB… and maybe just throw in a feature from the AR / VR team. Each feature also has a different user persona. The constant context switching across these features is not fulfilling. I feel like I own little bits and pieces of everything and not one larger “theme” that I can really deep dive into.
Should I consider another career outside product or is it mainly a company specific problem?
Entrepreneurship is the ultimate “stakeholder management” gig.
If you don’t like stakeholder management, you won’t enjoy being an entrepreneur.
It seems like you prefer product design/development to product management.
Well… in one I work for them, and they can fire me, and in the other one we negotiate as equals or better.
You’re not the equal of your investors, the board, or even your customers.
All of them can, essentially, fire you (or its contextual equivalent).
Furthermore, as an entrepreneur (especially as the CEO), your job is to primarily chase down and keep track of what other people are doing which, it seems, is what OP hates the most about their role.
These answers are over-the-top kooky. Every PM job is different. A lot of PM roles have minimal stakeholder interaction. And, it’s possible for your stakeholders to not suck, which actually gets at the heart of your question. Politics don’t need to suck up the majority of your time or leave you feeling like you have no ownership.
I have long-term roles/projects where I just had customers and people who could build things the customers needed. Maybe it became a “stakeholder” convo on occasion when multiple solutions were possible, but this stuff was pretty easy to resolve.
Sounds like a bit of both (product in general and company specific). Stakeholder management is real, and you’ve got to be good at building a narrative around why the things you want to build are the biggest, most exciting opportunities available. Find ways to get different people aligned to a single goal. If you aren’t excited about that, fair to look at other things. But once you’re in product management, I’d try and make it work; it’s hard to get in, and your resume will look weird if you get out of it and try and get back in.
A couple things to think about: prioritization and leverage.
Prioritizing: Gotta be laser focused, pick one problem/metric to solve for your products and be relentless about not doing other things. Use this on your stakeholders (“would you like this first, or this first? Can’t do both!”)
Leverage: find ways to get help operating. Build tools to help content or operations folks to run their own areas without engineering intervention. Give operators ownership, make them responsible for delivering things, rather than just the other way round. Give ownership to folks and celebrate their wins, it will get you some time back and build a strong team around you (maybe there’s a good Jr PM in there).
I’m a middle Product Manager at a large company, this is what has worked for me but obv your situation is unique, hope it’s helpful.
Try another company. Sounds like your situation with so many products is far from ideal and this also makes me wonder about the quality of your managers. PM roles vary drastically between team and companies. Try another one, if it doesn’t work, you’ll know it’s not for you, but I would not give up this fast.
I agree with the general sentiment on this thread. Product management is all about stakeholder management.
But you missed the fundamental part of PMing. It is driving results by influence without authority. You’re literally NOT coding, designing, doing research (research team), writing corporate strategy (CEO/VP or corp strategy team), selling products (Sales, GTM teams), onboarding/supporting customers (Cust success/support) and so on.
Your goal and your only goal is to convince everyone that your roadmap will drive the organization towards the desired goals.
People have personal agendas and often times there are in opposite direction of your goal. You have to constantly negotiate and manage politics, chase down people to get a job done. Often times even getting a small job done requires herculean effort. This is prevalent in large organizations. That’s why most PMs burn out.
One thing that I stood out to me when you said "Good training ground for entrepreneurship. I’ve always been somewhat entrepreneurial, and this is my long-term goal "
Entrepreneurship is no different than Product management. If anything, managing stakeholders is most critical part of a successful Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are usually working with a large unknown and uncertain problems, and you have to convince and guide humans to solve those problems with you.
I’ll offer a softer yes than the others in the thread. I think it’s possible to have a rewarding career in Product without loving the stakeholder management part of the job. It will probably be more of an uphill battle if that’s tiring to you, but it’s doable as long as you can get good enough at it to get by. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses and very few people are amazing at every aspect of their job.
One thing I’ll recommend though is to think of managing stakeholders like product marketing. You wouldn’t launch a new feature or product without talking to users, understanding what the problem is, telling them about your new solution and getting them excited about it. If you can approach internal stakeholders, the same way it may help to reframe.
Also… I’ve only worked in startups, but I get the impression that there’s probably a bit less stakeholder management in smaller companies than larger ones. Just fewer personalities and priorities to juggle. Open to hearing the perspective of someone who has done both sizes though.
I’m interested in product, coming from a design perspective but the stakeholder management piece doesn’t get much easier if averse to it. Product Management just has it as a more prominent part of the role.
The short answer is, yes, product management might not be the practice you want to be a part of if this is super aversive to you. But I’d offer a slightly contrasting perspective than most of the replies. I’d consider the emotional components of your career. What impact you really want to make? Does the problem space make a difference in your enthusiasm towards the work? Entrepreneurship is all about stakeholders, but the emotional investment someone has in their “own thing” changes the dynamics of how what you’re willing to take on.
Knowing yourself is just as important as knowing the de facto progression models that companies have defined for PMs. Sometimes it’s a net negative for you to try and shoehorn your self into that. If your goal is entrepreneurship, I think you have to unpack that a little bit more. It really sounds like you could gain experience in roles that aren’t considered “product” by title but may give you exposure to lots of product related skills depending on the company. It really sounds like your interest are better fits for roles that are literally called “strategy,” but I understand how you can see that as being at the expense of gaining execution skills.
Others have said it, but yes… it’s a lot of that and politics the further up you get.
From what you described I may believe your company is medium or almost large enterprise and the stress of constant push & pull is feeding off your mental health.
If this is the case, you should start delegating some stuff specially that tending more towards each stakeholder KPI across company than your product specific interim. But make sure with delegations you stay always consulted and informed through well documented RASCI matrix.
Hard yes. That’s a very critical (and most times shitty) part of the role.
I can certainly see how how managing stakeholders across disparate products would be taxing. In addition to what some others have said about trying to get help (maybe a jr. PM?), it sounds very much like you’re in a “reactive” state of stakeholder management. I would encourage you to think of ways to be proactive, feeding your stakeholders relevant info and following up on ‘to do’ items on your own schedule, instead of being randomly inundated with requests. Flip the script - make your stakeholders understand that vhwh22 answers questions at 2pm on Tuesdays, instead of whenever I ping him. It may also help you to identify people within your set of stakeholders who you could consider allies and who might be willing to help fill in the gaps, since you are but one person. Don’t give up, this is a very common sentiment, but learning to effectively manage stakeholders transcends product management. It will pay dividends if you can learn to use stakeholders to your advantage.
I would consider moving into more of a UX/Product Owner role versus a product manager role. One of the key aspects of product management is the ability to say no in a way that the stakeholder actually likes No as the answer.
For me, a key part of product management is building a vision/concept that adds values to customers. Then getting stakeholders to contribute to /buy into the vision. Without stakeholder engagement and management, you can’t really be a product manager.
Yes, find a new career. This is the meat and potatoes of product.