The dark side of the Force. Why should a project manager be in the product team

    I recently re-read my old article on people management, written about three years ago. At that moment I was a novice project manager and the “dark side of power” in project management seemed far and unreal.

    Project Manager vs.  Product manager

    Then I was responsible for a custom-made project with clear requirements, “my” team, which I set tasks, defended and protected from the outside world, the schedule that I made and defended in discussions with management and the customer. I talked with the customer, as well as with the management, from the position of the team and defended its interests: so that the deadlines were sufficient, so that new requirements didn’t appear “out of nowhere”, so that the claims to quality had a real basis and so on. The relationship with the team was, in my opinion, close to ideal. Of course, there were conflicts and disagreements, but, in most cases, they were resolved instantly and painlessly.

    After some time, I headed another department. In fact, it was a separate company that engaged in the product development of components for .NET andJavaScript . Accordingly, in the scope of my tasks, product management was added, as well as overseeing marketing and sales managers. In fact, a business component was added to my responsibilities.

    After some time, I noticed that I began to rapidly move away from the ideals of the “bright side”. I began to devote much less time to motivating and training employees. Sometimes he began to criticize the guys at all, not even taking aside and even (to his great shame) a couple of times allowed himself to raise his voice.

    At one point, looking back, I was horrified at how much my management style had changed, and how much I looked like that vile and unprofessional PM, whose image (with the words "and where only such come from") painted for myself, when just starting to work.

    Of course, I really did not like it (in general, I love it when they love and respect me;). Accordingly, I decided to consider why this happened, and what should be done to prevent further “degradation”.

    The very first thought that came to my mind was saving: I just do not have enough time to “be good”, and a large number of constantly solved current problems that do not allow me to enter the stream simply unbalance.

    I decided to check this fact and reduced the load by breaking the team so that each group was led by a team leader who I would give a bunch of tasks with priorities and not follow their future fate until the testing specialist says “everything is ready” . In addition, I delegated employee training and focused on product development and promotion. Indeed, work on the formulation, specification of tasks and development control has become much less. But, nevertheless, it didn’t help much “return to the bright side”.

    Thinking a little more, I realized what was missing in the current situation. There was no sense of unity with the team, which could last for months on custom development.

    There was no strong credo for any project manager: I create what my team creates. On the contrary, the feeling did not leave: the team makes my product . The team does what I need, what I planned. And, it seems, this is the key point. The whole problem is that I began to look at the team from the side of the business , while being a PM was itself part of it.

    Previously, managing people came down to setting goals, motivating, learning and protecting from external influences. Now - to setting goals, motivation, training, hiring, raising salaries, etc. If you look closely, one important factor is missing. This is a protection against external influences . In fact, the external impact is me !

    Thus, the problems of business immediately descend to the team, bypassing the PMA - the same shield that eliminates unnecessary, structured the flow of tasks, does not allow customers to change priorities on the fly, redraw requirements and do everything else that they ( and now we can say “we » ) Love to do so.

    So, the moral of this is a somewhat lengthy case: for good work, programmers need a defender who will serve as a filter and adapter for constantly changing business requirements. Almost always, this is the task of PMa. Therefore, if programmers work directly with the business and receive tasks directly from there, they are left without a shield and receive a continuous charge of demotivation. Thus, if the product is at the same time the project manager, then the path to the "dark side" is provided for him in any situation.

    PS There is one caveat - a good process can also protect a team not bad, but that's another story .

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