We, as product managers, are always doing tens of things at the same time. It is understandable if sometimes we don’t have the time (or the energy or the mood) to explain things in detail to engineers. But, doing it is super critical for several reasons. It:
1. helps engineers understand customers’ real needs
2. helps build trust, credibility, and a collaborative mindset
3. helps stay aligned and on the same page
The next time you feel like skipping explaining the details or answering questions from engineers, remember that taking the time to do so will pay off in the long run!
Helps engineers understand customers’ real needs
We understand customers’ and business needs more than anyone else in the company.
Engineers sometimes do not have the same context or details as us, which is reasonable as engineers mainly focus on the technical aspects.
As a result, they might not understand or agree with everything the product manager asks them to do. To avoid such conflicts and ensure that the product caters to the customer’s (and business) needs, we can do either of two things:
1. Ask them to do it because we said so
2. Take the time to share and explain the details
Number 1 always leads to below-average product quality and unhappy teams.
Helps build trust, credibility, and a collaborative mindset
We alone cannot make our products a success. We need the help of engineers (and other stakeholders) to make our vision a reality. The best way to get help and collaborate is by building trust and credibility.
It is sometimes hard to build the required trust or prove our capability because we (PMs) focus more on user needs, product strategy, and business goals. In contrast, engineers focus on the technical details and implementation. This differing focus can lead to friction or misunderstanding.
The best way to avoid that is by:
- sharing our “why” behind the “what.”
- being open to feedback and rebuttal.
- patiently answering questions and clarifying doubts.
- encouraging everyone to share thoughts, ideas, and feedback candidly and without fear.
The openness encourages everyone in the team to believe in the problem and collectively find and implement world-class solutions.
Helps stay aligned and on the same page
We, as product managers, have the highest chance of succeeding if/when all stakeholders, especially engineers, understand the goals and how their work contributes to them.
We need to enable this alignment. And we must do it in a way that engineers prefer.
Most engineers like working with a high level of detail, which makes it our responsibility to make the required level of detail available. This ensures everyone is aligned – all the time. It assures that everyone is working on the right and the same goals and minimises the chances of misalignment.
To sum up, we should spend extra time overcommunicating and sharing details with engineers. Doing that enables engineers to align with the larger goals and to create the best solutions possible.