Stakeholder Management for Product Managers

Product Managers are notorious for kicking butt in most organisations. At least the ones we know…..

On a day to day basis Product Managers:

  • Work hard to get feedback from customers
  • Field requests from customer service and sales
  • Spend time reporting, keeping track of their product’s performance
  • Keep a watchful eye on the market, their competitors and new trends
  • Constantly assess their product’s value in the market
  • Review their product’s costs and ways to reduce those costs
  • Prepare presentation packs, board papers, training packs to name a few….
  • Try to get new projects off the ground
  • Review, rethink and renew

Tough job to do alone!

And the most difficult part is that Product Managers generally have no direct staff responsibility. They have to use their super stakeholder management skills to get information, support or buy in from staff across the organisation to help them do their job well.

So how do we go about doing that?

Well… its not rocket science but here’s a list of how I’ve gone about it.

  1. Knowledge. Know your customer, your business, the market, your stakeholder, your product and the domain of Product Management well.
  2. Tailor your message to your stakeholder. If you know your stakeholder and their needs and concerns, you’ll be able to ask for help in such a way that also helps them solve their problems.
  3. Actively manage your stakeholders. They may be more or less senior but you’ll need to find ways to manage your stakeholders to help you get your job done.
  4. Make confident decisions. If you have *knowledge*, you’ll be able to make good decisions involving your product. Staff will come to you for guidance. Once you’ve proven yourself, they are more than likely to return the favour.
  5. Respect the people around you. If you show them respect, its inevitable that they’ll respect your request and will support you.
  6. Do mean presentations. Have you noticed that people who can prepare and deliver a great presentation always seem to have influence in an organisation. Tell a story.
    If you can’t stand up and deliver a presentation well, go out and get the skills. I can’t stress this enough.
  7. For godsake have a sense of humour! Have a bit of fun and people will be drawn to you.
  8. Be passionate about your product. This bit of advice is much like having a sense of humour. People are generally energised by someone who is passionate.
  9. Do what you say. If you don’t, people will return the favour and you won’t get very far.
  10. Make friends. If all fails, apply BEER and make friends.