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Gaining Respect from Engineers as a Product Manager

Kevin Gu

Director Of Product Management at TextNow

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Problem

"When I first joined Etsy, the team I was assigned to didn't have a product manager before me, so the engineers did not understand what value a product manager can provide. Before I got there, the engineers were doing whatever they wanted, there wasn't an organized road map and they wanted to bring in someone who can set a goal and bring focus."

Actions taken

"I sat down with every engineer on the team and I asked them what they think a PM should do and where they need help right now. I also observed the team for two weeks without actually doing anything as a product manager, I just observed how they were working and I took notes of different places that I saw as problem areas such as prioritization. I made a presentation and presented it back to the team of the challenges I noticed and my ideas to solve them. I think that presentation got me a lot of buy in on the process and changes I wanted to make. I presented myself as someone who is trying to help instead of someone who is coming in and telling them what to do."

Lessons learned

"I found that some engineers take more time to warm up to you than others so you need to spend more time with those engineers. I think it also applies to situations where you are replacing a PM that they really liked before you so they either have low expectations or high expectations so I think the same process works for both problems."


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Kevin Gu

Director Of Product Management at TextNow


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