In the previous chapter we just reviewed some basic concepts of digital products. Now let’s understand what a head of product is, what its roles and responsibilities are.
As I mentioned in the introduction to the book, the role of the product leader is divided into 3 major areas:
Asking people who want to grow in their careers to become head of product why they want this career progression, many answers that they want to be able to have a more active voice and even guide the definition of the product’s vision and strategy. Well, I’m sorry to frustrate you but, as I mentioned earlier, this is only 10% of the work for a product leader.
The other 90% of a product leader’s time is devoted to helping product managers in their development and managing expectations. As I said above, the more junior and inexperienced your team is, the more time you will have to dedicate to the development of your team, which can take up to 40% of your time. On the other hand, if your team is junior and inexperienced, more work will need to be done to manage expectations, which can take up to 80% of your time.
Imagine that you have a junior and inexperienced team, that takes 30% of your time, and that, as a result, you have a lot of expectation management to do, like 70% of your time. That is, 100% of your time will be spent helping your team to develop and managing expectations. Therefore, it is important that you take great care with the seniority of your team, otherwise there will be no time in your day-to-day to take care of the vision and strategy of the product you lead.
This is a topic that we hear almost daily at all companies: seniority levels. There are many situations in which this topic comes up. Hiring, performance evaluation, increases, promotions, bonuses, etc. The more senior a person is, the more you expect from him. After all, she has experience and knowledge to deal with the most difficult situations at work. My experience has shown me that we need to analyze a person’s seniority based on three dimensions:
We normally assess seniority based on time. For example, if a person has more than 10 years of experience, he is a senior. However, time alone is not enough. If she has done the same thing in these 10 years, without questioning herself and without continually looking to improve and try new things, she has not evolved as a professional. She didn’t put any new tools on her utility belt. Therefore, you will have a lot of difficulty when facing new situations since you do not have the necessary tools.
Therefore, in addition to time, we must also consider knowledge. We can translate knowledge as the set of tools that a professional has in his utility belt. If a person knows only one tool, he will use it to solve all problems. It’s like the law of the hammer, for a hammer, everything looks like a nail. This law is attributed to Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist well known for the pyramid of hierarchy of needs concept.
The more tools someone has, the easier it will be to face new situations and find solutions. That is why consultants are so versatile. They work for short periods of time on different clients, facing different problems and need to create ways to solve new problems, since each new client they work for has different problems and contexts.
Sometimes, a consultant with 3 years of experience, working with 6 different clients, will have many more tools in her tool belt than someone who has been with the same company for 10 years. The consultant is likely to be more senior than the person who spent 10 years in the same company, doing the same job and solving the same problems without question and continually seeking to improve, improve and try new things.
To assess someone’s seniority – even when we are self-evaluating our own seniority – we need to look at years of experience and the quality of the knowledge accumulated during those years.
However, this is not enough.
Behavior is a dimension of seniority that is not normally discussed when assessing someone’s seniority, but it is just as important as time and knowledge. Sometimes I have the impression that it is even more important than time and knowledge.
Behavioral seniority means that the person knows how to behave properly:
I will give some examples and counter-examples of behavioral seniority to make the concept clearer:
I believe that with these two examples and counterexamples, it becomes clearer what I meant by behavioral seniority.
In my opinion, this is the most important dimension of seniority. If you have someone with seniority in knowledge and many years of experience, but without behavioral seniority, she will not only be more likely to perform poorly, but will also interfere with your team’s performance.
So, the next time you are assessing someone’s seniority level – including when you are evaluating your own seniority – evaluate years of experience, quality of knowledge accumulated during those years, and behavioral seniority. Only then can you fully assess that person’s seniority level.
In the next chapter we will understand a little more about the product career.
So, did you miss something in this chapter? What else would like me to cover?
Do you work with digital products? Do you want to know more about how to manage a digital product to increase its chances of success? While you wait for new book, check out my Digital Product Management bundle with my 2 books where I share what I learned during my almost 30 years of experience in creating and managing digital products.