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Temptation to Be a Reactive Instead of Proactive Product Manager

Mission / Vision / Charter
Product Team
Product
Internal Communication
Career Path
Performance

23 December, 2021

Sumesh Narayanan
Sumesh Narayanan

Head of Product at Thoughtexchange

Sumesh Narayanan, Head of Product at Thoughtexchange, shares how he faced speed bumps as a new manager at a startup and overcame those challenges by fostering a culture of creativity.

Communicate and Stay Focused

I brought in a lot of the processes around defining requirements and focusing on the use cases. Furthermore, I ensured that we stayed in the problem space instead of jumping into the solutions. One of the keys is that when you are talking to your team, ensure that you are communicating to them about the problems. In order to foster creativity, I gave them the problem and a timeline to work towards without necessarily talking about possible solutions, which in turn helped them think it through and come up with a solution.

When it came to working with the design team, it was even more crucial. Design teams are on a mission to put an image to the ideas in your head through UI/UX. Trying to make them understand exactly what I had in my mind, I sketched a rough idea on a piece of paper to communicate my thought processes. They had the autonomy to come up with different alternatives, but I wanted them to stay on the same page as I was.

Be Empathetic and Up To The Speed

  • Identify and develop the top talents in your team early on. I was fortunate enough to manage a team full of potential and I had the chance to help a young ambitious woman grow in her career. Not always would they have the credentials of a well-recognized degree from a top-tier university, but if they excel at their job, support them to the core.
  • Over-communicate as much as possible. Instead of assuming that others know and understand you well, talk about what you have in mind, and be transparent and zealous about it.
  • Don’t make false promises. Whether it’s a feature or a deadline, if you think something is unachievable, communicate that with everyone and let them know ahead of time. Avoid last-minute surprises.

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