December 18, 2017

Archives for July 2013

Earned Authority #3: Develop Great Working Relationships With Your Key Internal Constituencies

In my previous two blogs on the topic of developing earned authority as a Product Manager or Product Marketer, I addressed the importance of developing you expertise in the Product Management domain and in your Market domain.   But having great expertise is not enough if you don’t have great working relationships with your key constituents, especially those internal to your company.

One of the reasons most of us in Product Management & Product Marketing love this role is the opportunity to interact with other parts of the organization.   When I think about the key internal constituencies, these include at least the following:

  • Executives – you have to show you are helping them achieve their business objectives and request funding from them.
  • Sales – they can help you make your product successful or they can sabotage you.
  • Engineering – you don’t have a product unless they develop it for you.
  • Marketing – they are going to help you create awareness and demand.
  • Services – they make sure your customers have a great experience with your product.
  • Finance – they might just be key in helping you develop forecasts and getting your business case approved.
  • Operations – these people might be more behind the scenes, but are also a critical cog in the success of your products.

That’s a lot of people to develop great relationships with, but as most of us PMs and PMMs have strong extrovert tendencies, this should not be a problem.   Let’s look at some ways that we can develop and enhance these relationships.

  1. Treat people nicely.   As I write this, I can’t help but think of Amy’s Baking Company which recently has been in the news for the terrible way they treated their employees and customers at the restaurant.   Without going into details, let’s “not” treat our key constituents like they did.   Remember the Golden Rule:  “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”
  2. Solicit and respect the perspective and ideas of others in the organization.   Most of us in Product Management/Product Marketing think that we are pretty smart, but we don’t have all of the answers and there are definitely areas in which we know very little.
  3. Arrive at meetings on time and prepare for the discussion that is on the agenda.  If you are in charge, plan an agenda, invite only those that need to participate and keep on schedule.  Don’t make people wait on you and don’t waste their time.
  4. Interact with your key constituents in non-business settings.   Go to lunch with them or join them for a happy hour.   Participate in non-business, but fun onsite activities, like sports, parties, etc.  These allows you to interact with people on a more casual basis and gain insights into each other that you wouldn’t be able to do within formal meetings and help you develop friendships, not just working relationships.
  5. Learn about their interests and be willing to talk about what interests them.
  6. When presenting to different constituents, make sure to think in their terms and key objectives (What’s in it for them).
  7. Keep them informed about what is going on with you product.   Regular updates to the key constituents can buy you some good favor and will help prevent unwanted surprises.
  8. Give credit where credit is due.   When someone makes a great contribution that makes your product (you) look good, make sure to give them credit for their contribution.
  9. Take time to say “Thank You” when people take time to help you out.

If you’re looking for additional thoughts, I highly recommend Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends & Influence People”.   Even though it was first published in 1937, the principles haven’t changed.