Product Management Career Tip – Don’t be an “I” or “they” specialist
July 10, 2011 7 Comments
On Friday, I had to complete my self evaluation of my Q2 performance review. As I was reviewing myself, I noticed that I had to continously mention how “I” got this and that done. Too many “I’s” were making me uncomfortable that I had to pause and think about it, but was soon to realize that it was appropriate because this was my self evaluation – a self reflection on my performance/accomplishments/mistakes and not the group performance.
However, in the normal working life as a software product manager, there is typically no “I”, there is no “they”, it is always “We”. I get quite irritated when I meet such “I” specialists for whom everything is “I said this”, “I did this”. As a software product manager, there is very little that you can do which is not a group effort. Whether it
is working with your development team, your marketing team or your finance team or your product management team, your accomplishments are primarily achieved by working with others. Hence, it is typically “We” did this or “We” should do this or “I” recommend that “we” do this.
Then there are the “they” specialists – folks who refer to their employers as “they”. For example, “I” recommended this, but “they” don’t want to do it. You are far better off pitching this as – “I” am recommending this because “we” can get to X,Y and Z. You come across as a true team player in your internal and external conversations. If you do this well and if you had a primary lead on some of these accomplishments, the right people should notice the leadership role you had to play. That recognition is far better than having to promote oneselves at every possible opportunity.
This is especially important when it comes to job interviews. You want to come across as a team player and “we” is the way to go. If all you do is become an “I” specialist or “they” specialist, it does not come across well. Of course, there are instances where you have to talk about what you have accomplished, but you will still be better off if you refer to some of these with a “We”. “They” when referring to an employer is best avoided.
Agree? Let me know.