Productivity: Building Your Work Stamina
This past March, I moved on from my role at Shopkick to Brilliant Home Technologies, and have entered a new phase in my career. Being part of a 30-person startup where you are the only product manager is a change in itself. However, it has also helped me identify one critical facet for driving productivity that still holds true. This applies both to defining the product manager role and deeming success in your day-to-day activities.
That is (and excuse my French) – product managers are ultimately liable for “making shit happen.” Now, I don’t mean that the product manager is the one that does all the work. Said differently, they are not the one person who has all the ideas. What I mean is that the product manager ultimately should do everything in his or her power for the product in order to make it successful.
“Making the product successful” is an ambiguous statement on purpose. In other words, this statement has different connotations at different stages of a company. Perhaps it initially means building the product to a point where your first client deal is secured. From there, it transforms into satisfying your beta customer. Next, it proceeds to blow the reviews out of the water with the press and finally into revenue or end-customer sales. At each stage, there are goals that the product manager will play a critical role in driving results.
Sounds exhausting, right? It can be – especially if you don’t build a framework that allows decisionmaking and wins/losses to be shared across the team. It’s really about building up your work stamina to drive productivity.
As part of that, I’m going to give you a couple of quick lessons that have helped me along the way.
You’re not alone in your work.
At difficult junctures in life (whether personal or professional), we have a tendency to think that it is unique to oneself. I would bet that if you are feeling overwhelmed, there is someone else at your company also in the same boat.
Celebrate the wins, as a team.
Let’s say you’re at a startup. Suddenly six months go by – and your company has doubled or even tripled. At the same time, you’re releasing product features faster than ever. Pause for a second – there’s always a time to celebrate the wins. Starting a tradition keeps a culture alive and creates a bond between a team that helps during the rough times.
As the product manager, you will likely have the most visibility into these successes and can be a good catalyst for setting up these celebrations. Furthermore, this helps in supporting great team dynamics.
Reflect on the losses, as a team.
Just as you will celebrate your wins, you want to create a culture that reflects on losses or failures. Whether you do that as part of post-mortems, or through other means – it’s important to take a moment with your team and talk about next steps. This is the sign of a healthy product team. Ultimately, every team member (engineer, designer, etc.) feels invested in the team’s success and failure, not just the product manager.
Recharge on your own time.
I’ve always had the most trouble with remembering to do this. If you’re like me, you go 100 miles an hour both at work and outside of work. In other words, you forget that you need to rest sometimes. Make sure you do what works for you to recharge and unwind. Most importantly, it will help maintain greater productivity when you’re back on the clock.
Just as you may think about building up frameworks through meditation and other aspects in your personal life, the same applies in your professional life. Ultimately, we spend the majority of our day at work. As a product manager, you are essentially always on call.
Invest the time to build up your work stamina. It will apply in every role you will have, and you’ll never regret it.
About the speaker
Gaurav is a Product Leader with more than 5 years of experience across all aspects of Product Management, Design, and Strategy. He is passionate about companies with a mission to better people's lives in a tangible way, and is a large proponent of product management through collaboration and emotional intelligence.