Best relationship between product and engineering manager

If you are the Engineering Manager in the team and have Product Manager partner to pair with, you should consider yourself lucky! That’s the best situation you can be in if you are leading the team. Your partnership can have one of three results on your team:

Having two conductors for the orchestra means that they really need to sync perfectly! How to achieve that?

Same goals for each time frame - short, mid and long term

Two of you need to make sure that you are aligned and have the same goals in mind, for each time frame. Such a conversation will help us trust each other. It won’t be uncommon when you disagree fundamentally on what to do next and how to execute a project. You might push towards spending some time on tackling this technical debt that was always slowing the team down while your PM might optimise for speed and just wants to learn early if the feature can get expected traction. Aligning that you two have the same goals will make you both more bought in to understand each other rationales and trade-offs.

Be genuinely interested in each other work

You both need to be genuinely interested in each other work. This will make sure that you talk and bounce off ideas on what to do next in your areas of expertise and you will better grow as partners. Engineering Manager needs to understand all the work that her PM partner is doing and try to dive deeper from time to time. Similarly, it should work the other way.

There is also a huge benefit of better resiliency in the team. You don’t have to worry so much about holidays, personal distractions or temporary swamp of other responsibilities if you know you can replace each other to some extent.

Shared values and principles.

Usually, PM and EM have different managers (Director of Product and Director of Engineering respectively). It’s important to make sure that both of these organisations are sharing similar values and principles on how they work. You can take it for granted, but I would definitely talk about it with my PM partner and make sure that you are behaving the same way.

What would EM expect from PM?

I am skipping core PM responsibilities, like making sure that we ultimately build the right product for our users. The following list is more unconventional than a job spec.

What would PM expect from EM?

Similarly, skipping the classic EM job specs and focusing on what’s most important in a relationship between PM and EM.

Summary

How much do you invest in your relationship with your directs? A lot - plenty of us will say that the relationship with our directs is one of the most important proxies of our success. However, you should invest much, much more in your relationship with PM.

This is critical for your team and will: