January 10

Working with Engineers

You may be tempted to think that working effectively with engineers is all about backlogs and user stories and being able to read code. Those things are helpful, but it’s also extremely important to build credibility, trust, and empathy with your engineers. It turns out that working effectively with engineers is in large part about being able to relate to them as people.

How to build credibility with engineers. “Your ability to influence and work effectively with engineers is a huge part of whether or not you’ll be successful as a Product Manager, and also whether you’ll be satisfied with your job.” Thing is, engineer’s prior experience with product managers who can influence how they view you. In this excerpt from his upcoming book, Brian Lawley explains how you can build credibility with the engineers you work with so that you work effectively with them.

(via @BrianLawley)

How to build trust with your engineers. In order to be successful as a product manager, you must be viewed as both credible and trustworthy. You need to be able to build trust with engineers. Shaun Juncal explores some methods you can use to build trust with your engineers so that you have a smoother working relationship with your team.

(via @shaunjuncal)

Empathizing with Engineers. “One of the most critical value multipliers that a product manager can bring to the table is the ability to empathize with their engineers.” When you deeply understand your engineers you can unlock value in a variety of ways. However, as Clement Kao explains, you don’t have to be technical to empathize with your engineers, you just need to relate to them as you would other stakeholders. “When you treat engineers as colleagues and as human beings, you can quickly establish engineering empathy, and that dramatically amplifies your impact and your effectiveness as a product manager.” Clement explains why you don’t need to be technical to work with engineers and shares some things he’s found engineers do look for in a product manager.

(via @prodmanagerhq)

How great Product Managers contribute to great engineering cultures. Great engineers leave when they are no longer excited by an opportunity or no longer like the culture in which they work. Product managers do have some influence over the engineering culture, and it’s to your benefit to building a strong engineering culture so that you can engineers interested in your product. Jack Moore provides some ways that you can influence your organization’s engineering culture and keep the good engineers hanging around.

(via @jacknotjohn)

On Collaboration Between Data Science, Product, and Engineering Teams.  Ann Spencer recently sat down with Eugene Mandel, Head of Product at Superconductive Health to discuss cross-team collaboration within data science. In that discussion, Ann and Eugene discuss how the probabilistic nature of data science work differs from ‘normal software engineering’ and the challenges that difference may provide for data science, product, and engineering teams. They also discussed the need to be “product-minded” on data science-related products and that “data science will become more like data product development and be a core part of the product organization.”

(via @dominodatalab)

Kent J McDonald

About the author

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft with a variety of product teams and provides just in time resources for product people at KBP.media and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.


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