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123 - Reverse Engineering Your Manager


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ProductCamp Boston is the world's largest and most exciting crowd-sourced one-day event for product people. It's organized by and for product managers, product marketers and entrepreneurs, so attendees get the most out of the day.

Attendees learn about and discuss topics in product management and product marketing, product discovery, product development & design, go-to-market, product strategy and lifecycle management, and product management 101, startups, and career development.

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123 - Reverse Engineering Your Manager

  1. 1. Reverse Engineering Your Manager Shobhit Chugh Will Eisner
  2. 2. Why bother reverse engineering your manager?
  3. 3. Note Any managers, situations, and examples used in this presentation are either the products of our imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. NOT :)
  4. 4. Let’s play a round of… MISUNDERSTANDING OUR MANAGERS
  5. 5. Whatever kind of manager you have, you have the ability to influence them by understanding them ● Step 1: Understand what kind of manager you have and what drives them ● Step 2: Use that understanding to contextualize their actions and thinking and their “good intent framework” ● Step 3: Create an influence plan based on that understanding and context
  7. 7. What kind of manager do you have? High Low HighLow Product People
  8. 8. Photo by Marco Secchi on Unsplash
  9. 9. Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash
  10. 10. Photo by Joe Cox on Unsplash
  11. 11. Photo by Frankie Guarini on Unsplash
  12. 12. Where does your boss fit? High Low HighLow Product People High Low HighLow Product People YOUR VIEW YOUR BOSS’ VIEW
  13. 13. SCENARIOS
  14. 14. Scenario 1: “The Reluctant Manager” is letting your projects / career languish Feels like ● Your manager is good at their main job but not consistently focused on you or your projects ● However, they may “swoop and poop” when external pressures arise A good plan ● Be clear with what kind of feedback you’re asking for and getting ● Direct your manager’s product brains to specific aspects of your project A bad plan ● Blame your lack of progress on their lack of attention (will result in defensiveness and reverse blame) ● Try to do it without their input (you will end up accumulating debt that is hard to payoff)
  15. 15. Scenario 2: “Lost in Translation” is slowing down your roadmap Feels like ● Short term discussions are plentiful. Long term ones are lacking ● Great feedback and development! ● No coherent strategy at a level above you A good plan ● Be excellent in areas they care about ● Get feedback on longer term strategy from other mentors within the company ● Get wins across the organization and bring your manager along ● Bring them along while flipping to ego “You probably already thought about this. What if we approached it this way?” A bad plan ● A direct mutiny or put down ● Treat their product feedback as an annoyance
  16. 16. Scenario 3: “The Problem” is playing politics and information control Feels like ● You cannot trust your manager. ● They throw you under the bus, hold back info, play you against your peers, or complain about you behind your back. ● Their product vision is not strong A good plan ● If you don’t think you can be successful, consider exit options - internal and external ● State your concerns in the form of how you could deliver more if you had more visibility, alignment, etc A bad plan ● Directly accuse or go over your manager’s head (may result in nasty retaliation)
  17. 17. Scenario 4: Hitting the accelerator with “the Unicorn” Feels like ● You are learning in every meeting ● You are meaningfully challenged (sometime too much) ● “Impostor syndrome” A good plan ● Clarifies your career aspirations with your manager; tell them exactly how you want them to coach you ● Recognize their blind spots A bad plan ● Tries to “win” at all costs ● Puts your ego against your manager’s ego
  18. 18. WRAPUP
  19. 19. Bringing It All Together ● Assess your manager, and reverse engineer them to understand their assessment of themself ● Use your manager’s mental model and “good intent framework” as context for discussions and requests with them ● When you have a big discussion scheduled with your manager, invest the time in thinking it through, and use this worksheet as a tool to organize your thoughts
  20. 20. Exercise sheet available!
  21. 21.
  22. 22. !!!
  23. 23. Reverse Engineering Your Manager Shobhit Chugh @shobhitchugh Will Eisner