4 Harsh Facts To Know Before You Transfer To Product Management Career

Aatir Abdul Rauf


Aatir Abdul Rauf


Sep 26, 2022

4 Harsh Facts To Know Before You Transfer To Product Management Career

When is Product Management not the right job for you?

Here are some reasons why some people I've talked to want to move into product management:

  • "Better salary!"
  • "It's less tiring & easier than coding"
  • "I'm creative & have a lot of product ideas"
  • "I always wanted to build a product of my own"

Firstly, if someone thinks that product management is any "easier" than development, they are sadly mistaken.

Secondly, hate to burst anyone's bubble but there are a few considerations to be made before you jump aboard.

  1. Ambiguity throws you off
  2. Constant communication isn't your thing
  3. You can't let go of perfectionism
  4. You desire a strong sense of control
  5. Accountability for unpredictable metrics scares you

I'd recommend you rethink your decision to take up product management if:

Ambiguity throws you off

When I started my PM internship at Microsoft, I was told this:

"We don't have a project for you, Aatir. You need to define a problem & solve it yourself."

That's a consistent theme throughout my journey.

Nothing is given to you on a platter. Data isn't always available. If it is, it's replete with noise. There are so many personas out there. Feedback varies. Stakeholder expectations are fuzzy.

Yet, a Product Manager still needs to steer the ship in this fog of uncertainty.

See more: 7 Ways to Help Your Team Deal with Ambiguity at Work

Constant communication isn't your thing

People communicating with each other

A Product Manager is always trying to create alignment. With stakeholders on what to expect, with developers on what to build, with leadership on performance.

That's done through clear, consistent communication. Think tons of emails, Slack, meetings, texts.

Moreover, you need to be VERY comfortable with interruptive communication. People around you will chime in without warning. While you can choose when to respond, some of the fires will need immediate attention.

Once you get into the weeds, your calendar keeps evolving like mercury. Generous runway for "deep work" is a rare luxury.

You can't let go of perfectionism

The discipline is all about making tradeoffs. You don't have infinite resources or time and thus, you need to sometimes let go of the "rough edges" to make way for something else.

Sometimes you just need to take a risk & move forward with a "good-enough" product to meet time-to-market goals.

You desire a strong sense of control

The popular phrase "influence without authority" is true in most cases. You need to negotiate & exhibit diplomacy to get your way.

Ex: You might make a decision but the Highest Paid Professional's Opinion (HiPPo) casually overrules it.

In short, you need to keep adapting.

Accountability for unpredictable metrics scares you

Regardless of your inputs, you'll be judged on outcomes.

You may have built an exceptional UX, released on-time & thought out of the box.

But sometimes results don't go your way because of externalities beyond your control.

In any case, you only earn the right to celebrate if the customer thinks you solved a problem for them & the metrics support that theory.

See more: Build A Career In Product Management

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