The outcome of a successful relationship between a Product Manager (PM) and an Engineering Manager (EM) is a motivated team shipping a valuable product.
Success demands the two work in concert. Insipid problems don’t inspire talented teams and mediocre teams don’t ship valuable products. You also need a healthy tension between the two roles. Focus on product alone and you get burnout. Oversteer the other way and the product lacks direction.
The strength of the relationship can be assessed by how well the PM and EM:
Solve valuable problems with effective solutions by building a team of skilled people who are motivated by their work to succeed in their careers.
We can break this down further by asking ourselves how well we:
Solve valuable problems
1. By understanding what our users need
2. And the market we are operating in
3. With a vision of the world that we want to create
With effective solutions
1. By creating an environment where people have context
2. So that they can make good decisions
3. And are comfortable sharing ideas
4. Knowing that ideas will be evaluated on their own merit
By building a team of skilled people
1. In teams that are sized with an adequate number of people
2. Where work is held to a high standard
3. And the team has the skills and resources to successfully bring the product to market.
Who are motivated by their work
1. Through new challenges that grow their skills
2. Using processes and tools that enable them to focus on what’s important
3. In an environment where they can fail safely
4. With timely access to coaching.
5. And a culture of continuous improvement through feedback
To succeed in their careers
1. With mentors to guide career planning
2. And managers to recognize achievements
3. Who promote them to new responsibilities.
A sustainable approach to product development accounts for the ambitions of both the product and the individuals who make up the team. It matters little who on the team takes on each responsibility. What is non-negotiable is that there is an owner.
How do you approach this relationship?