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How to get respect from your development team (as a Product Manager)


1 May, 2018

Jonas Kurzweg
Jonas Kurzweg

Growth Lead

How to get respect from your development team (as a Product Manager)

Ahh developers. As a Product Manager you do love them — but it can be a love-hate relationship.

Most of them are easy to work with, but occasionally they disagree with you — and then it will be hard to get to where you want.

In the following, I will help you to get the respect of your development team, so you can make your ideas become reality and your work-life more efficient.

1. Get to know the personalities

Selling product talk

The base of every successful relationship, at work or in private, is understanding how the mind of your opposite works.

You have to differentiate between:

  • The personality of the individual

  • The personality of the collective

Tip: Take your time to get to know your developers.

Try to talk to each developer in the team. This seems time intensive, but you can combine it with having lunch together.

And don’t just talk on a superficial level. Take a bit of a deep dive.What motivated you to become a developer? What are the goals that you want to achieve?

Having that talk will not only teach you how to deal with that person, it is also fun and will improve your relationship to each other.

Concerning the personality of the collective, you can find out a lot by observing.What are the social dynamics? Who is calling the shots?Use that knowledge next time you interact with your development team.

2. Be understanding

understanding product manager

Empathy is key. You have to understand that every change you propose is additional work for the developers. That is why it is important to have a clear and consistent vision.

Imagine being a developer. You work on a project for weeks. All of the sudden your product manager comes to visit you and starts talking about how he saw feature XY being introduced by a competitor. He tells you that you should start working on something like that too — this request comes out of nowhere for you. Meanwhile, you still have a backlog of bugs and customer requests.

Now you may understand why that developer would start disliking his product manager.

Tip: Stick to your roadmap. Make the developers job as easy as possible.And if you propose changes, provide hard evidence.

If you can prove why a change makes sense with logic, your developers will be much more likely to listen to you — they will even start to respect you for it.

When discussing changes, treat your developers as equals. Let them voice their opinions. If you ask smart questions, you can determine the direction of the discussion.

In the end, this will result in your developers believing in your vision and proposals themselves.

3. Speak their language

Product management language

You do not need to learn how to write code.

But it will be much easier to talk and relate to your development team if you understand basic principles and concepts of programming.

Tip: If you don’t know much about the topic yet, take a crash course.

Knowing basic programming skills will get you a better scope of what is technically possible in which time.

As a product manager, most of your job consists of being a translator between Design, Development and Business anyways — so you should be fluent in every of these languages.

Avoid misusing terms at all costs — this is the easiest way to lose respect. It will result in confusion in the best case. In the worst case you will get made fun of.

That concludes the list. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the article, consider subscribing to our mailing list!

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Jonas Kurzweg
Jonas Kurzweg

Growth Lead

UX, marketing & product nerd. Coffee enthusiast. Working at UXCam.

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