As a Product Manager, much of your time is spent answering “why?”
“haven’t you shipped yet?”
“are you prioritizing feature x and not feature y?”
“aren’t you using <hot new framework>?”
“can’t we just change how the feature functions?”
“won’t you make the change just for this one customer?”
Really, this is the job. You decide what problems to prioritize. Which solution to implement. When to build the solution. Along the way, you’re just answering “why?”
The problem is that being asked “why?” all the time feels like people are losing trust in your abilities. It’s aggravating and difficult to persuade people to see things from your point of view. If you find yourself being asked “why?” more often than you feel you should, there are a number of things that you can do:
This is a legitimate option. Continue doing what you’re doing but find ways to be less stressed out. Perhaps others do not mind. If they do, then you will need to find ways to make your work and interactions with others enjoyable.
Get Hired at a Startup
Startups–and smaller companies–tend to have trust built-in. The whole company is right there and understands the problems customers face and has a shared understanding of the challenges. This is a BIG step and should not be taken lightly. It’s probably easier to first try and fix the problems where you’re at.
Create a Roadmap That People Love
Roadmaps tend to be stale and boring and dull. What if you made one that people actually love to interact with? Then all you have to do is point people to the roadmap on a regular basis–especially when they start asking questions. Eventually, they will start looking on their own.
Build a Model or Use a Framework
Build a “model” or use a framework for making your decisions. Models and frameworks are just tools for persuasion. It’s something you can show people that appears to be objective. They’re something you use to show people that your decisions are not made in a vacuum–but rather are well thought out using what appears to be objective data.
The great thing about models and frameworks is that you start with the outcome and then adjust the inputs to get the results you want.
Communicate Preemptively with Department Heads
This will make it easier to ease them into decisions you make later on–both because you will have built trust and because they will already sense the direction things are going.
This is your chance to reiterate the customer-facing problems. Together you get to confirm there is an opportunity, determine the journey customers are to take, and design solutions. Later, when you’re testing whether your assumptions are correct, everyone will know why you arrived where you did.