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Paul McAvinchey
Co-founder of Product Collective
Asked a question 9 months ago

How does a non-technical product manager gain respect from the engineering team?

Where am I?

In Product Collective Answers you can ask and answer questions and share your experience with others!

Compliment the engineering team in other areas. Know your market. Know your customers. Know your product vision and quantify that vision with market data, usage metrics, and customer input. 

If you can confidently communicate these points to engineering they are bound to respect you.

Also, make sure you keep your objective to subjective ratio in check! Engineers are often very binary!

Kent J McDonald
Product Manager & Writer

As a product manager who does not have a background as a software developer, I’ve found the following things have helped me build a good relationship with product teams:

Seek to learn enough about the technology that you’re using so that you can understand the implications to producing a valuable, viable, usable, and feasible solution.

Don’t act completely disinterested when a discussion turns extremely technical, instead seek to find out how the implications of what the engineers are talking about might impact decisions you have to make.

When your team says that there is technical debt that needs to be prioritized above a new feature, consider their request. You’re certainly justified in asking them to explain the importance of what they are asking in terms of the overall outcome.

Ask them what information they need from you when they start working on new functionality. Agree as a team what backlog refinement looks like (if you use a backlog) and what information should be in place about those backlogs.

Make sure you explain the why behind your prioritization decisions.

Involve your team in designing solutions.