Product management is one of the most cross functional roles in a company. You work with engineers, developers and designers to build product and also work closely with other stakeholders such as marketing, legal, sales and the executive team. With no direct authority over any department, product managers must lead by influence. A quality leaders share is the ability to effectively and gracefully communicate their impact and value to others in their organizations. Tooting your own horn is crucial for your success as a product manager and as a leader
Many of us find self-promotion challenging because most of us, especially women, were taught that it was immodest—even obnoxious—to talk about our achievements.
A report published in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology last year, showed that women struggle with taking credit for their work on a team with men. Given that product managers work with development teams composed mostly of men, this challenge can be heightened for women product managers. Unfortunately,women are also more often penalized than men for self-promotion. Rather than risk looking like a braggart, we often downplay our work, cite all the unresolved problems, or put others in the spotlight.
But failing to take fair share of their credit, according to researchers, is a major reason why women aren’t reaching the C-suite in more numbers. Notably, relatively few product managers of either gender make it to the C-suite.
All product managers could benefit by tooting their own horn. Quite often we are so busy that we fail take the time but the reality is that organizations (including sometimes your boss), do not seek to understand who does what so long as the work gets done. Taking your fair share of the credit does not undermine the contribution of the team. Establishing your visibility as a leader will help you, your product, and your team. Get comfortable with claiming your accomplishments.
These 8 tips will help you promote yourself without looking obnoxious.
- Passion is contagious and will get you noticed. The best way to avoid charges of excessive self-interest is to be excited by something bigger than you. Focus on how your achievements benefited your team and your organization.
- Ask for accountability. In other words, step up, loudly and clearly as leader. This makes it hard to be invisible when success happens.
- Accept praise gracefully. Don’t dismiss a compliment or praise directed at you by deflecting it. Focus on the positive result. Simply say, “Thank you. I’m proud to have led the team to achieve such good results in making customers happy.”
- Toot someone else’s horn. When you make it a practice to promote other people by giving them the credit they deserve, they have a tendency to reciprocate.
- When presented with an opportunity, don’t say, “I’ll do my best to meet your expectations” but set expectations for success. The reality is that people tend to believe the expectations we set for ourselves. Say, “Thank you, I look forward to making a significant contribution.”
- Keep a “brag book” of past praise, big or small, such as a thank you note from a customer or the sales team, or any other type of recognition. Include product performance metrics, market research, product strategy plans, sanitized business cases, road maps, and any company or industry presentations that will help document your career highlights. In particular, make a point to document every accomplishment that can be quantified. Review and update your achievements regularly. It’s a great way to build confidence.
- Don’t assume you’ll get noticed and rewarded. Proactively seek out and take advantage of opportunities to communicate the value you provide to your team and organization.
- Actively network with other product managers. Keep up-to-date on industry topics by participating in networks outside your organization. Engage with the many excellent product management blogs out there. Follow LinkedIn’s Product Management Channel on Pulse.
There are several factors over which product managers have no control that can impact the bottom line (such as staffing in other people’s P&Ls, etc) but effectively communicating your value is not one of them.
So go ahead, toot your own horn!