To continue the conversation started in this course, with Drew and other user experience professionals, join Drew's Practical UX: Lessons from the Trenches LinkedIn group.
Skill Level Intermediate
- As a user experience designer, it's likely you have to work with a product manager. How is your relationship with your PM? Could it be better? Do you often get stuck on how to engage with your PM in order to be more effective? Do you ever wonder how might you redesign your working relationship with your PM to set you and your project up for success? In this video, we'll discuss building your working relationship with your PM so you can achieve more. We'll jump in the first steps you can take with your PM before any new project.
We'll look at how you can share specific responsibilities to help you both shine in your next project, and at the end of this video, my goal is for you to feel more confident in building that bond between you and your PM. Let's get started. Just like any relationship, it takes two to tango. Let's begin with getting to know your PM. Start by setting up a weekly 1 on 1 to get to know them better so you can begin learning about the following things. What projects have they worked on in the past? This can help you understand a depth in knowledge they might have in specific domains.
It also helps you give context on what they're capable of. For example, one of my PMs ran his own startup and also worked at a gaming company. They knowledge he brought into our product around gaming mechanisms and quick intuitive decision making was invaluable. Each role we have in our career carries over into the next so it's quick to get to know of the history of your peers. You can also do this by using LinkedIn. Here are a list of a few questions you could ask your PM.
Tell me about your last few roles as a PM. What were some of the biggest lessons learned at your last company? What would you have done differently? You might have a seasoned PM who has worked on hundreds of projects so dig deeper and get to know your PM. What are their short and long-term goals? They might be very similar to yours. Imagine align your goals and expediting what you both want because together, you'll be able to do more. It can also help with your relationship because you have a deeper level of empathy for your team member on what they're passionate about, then you can be mindful in your conversations with them, for example, you might want to ask them what their personal goals are for the quarter.
You can also discuss what their expectations are for a product partner. How often do you both expect to check in with one another? Work towards standardizing what your quality bar is by sitting down together and answering some basic questions like "what do you consider to be good?". What kinds of things would be unacceptable if they shipped? Get a dialogue together ahead of time and this can help you avoid debates that don't need to be drawn out. You can have more conversations about solving bigger problems and spend less time talking about basic expectations that you and your partner have already aligned on from day one.
Discuss how you would give each other feedback when you know areas that need to be improved. You could call this a retrospective. Having an open line of communication between a designer and a PM can help resolve issues immediately so no one has to wait till the end of your review to get feedback. This is why you want to agree on some basic expectations between you and your partner upfront. After you established this core relationship with your PM, it's possible that you still might not see eye to eye in certain things.
If this happens to you, you might end up having to work harder to continually build on this, but the positive side is that you'll both know what to expect out of each other and this will lead to a better partnership in the long run. Just keep working on it. Now, I'll jump into how you and your PM can share responsibilities, but first, have you been in a situation where you design an experience but don't end up presenting it with your key stakeholders because your PM wants to own the entire experience? This is a chance for you to align with your PM on how you could share the presentation.
For example, your PM could lead the charge on setting the context of the presentation and spend the first five to ten minutes on project goals, key metrics of success, and then you of the UX designer could go into the customer problems, then carry into how you solve them with your new amazing experience. Then, after you complete your part of that presentation, your PM can jump back in, support you, and discuss the next steps. This assures you both have representation and fill a part of the process.
This can also be a sign of strength and cohesion to your stakeholders. It just requires a little more planning upfront to understand how you and your PM will tell a story. Now I want to move in to another hot topic of how you partner on design feedback and product feedback. Let me give an example, as a designer, have you ever gotten feedback from your PM saying "It should look like this and behave like that."? On the flip side, have you ever told your PM "this task is higher priority because of x reasons."? Well, you both crossed each others fields.
This is perfectly okay. We are all designers and we are all product managers. In the end, a designer will be responsible for the design and the PM will be responsible for the final product decision. But it's okay to have those healthy debates because we're all working towards a common goal of a better user experience. So today I've walked through a few techniques for how you can work better with your product managers. As you work more and more with your PMs, you will develop more empathy for one another as you innovate on new and exciting projects.
The most important thing to remember with your partnership is that it's not about them versus me, it's about we. If you have stories you would like to share about working with PMs, I would love to hear about them on our practical ux weekly LinkedIn group. You can also tweet at me @abridewell, ping me on my Facebook page @practicaluxweekly, or message me directly on LinkedIn. Thank you for watching, and I'll see you next time.
Q. Where can I ask the author questions about practical UX?
A. To continue the conversation started in Practical UX Weekly with Drew and other user experience professionals, join the LinkedIn group at https://www.linkedin.com/