Tips for PM Introverts

Jackie Bavaro
May 1, 2015 · 3 min read

Close your eyes and imagine a great product manager. What are they like? If you thought of someone outgoing and extroverted, you’re not alone. But not all great PMs are extroverts.

If you’re more reserved, product management can be a little harder. But, with a few techniques you can manage your energy, get buy-in on your ideas, and motivate your team to great success.

Big Meetings

Meetings with lots of people can be exhausting, especially if you don’t know what to expect or you have to be the moderator.

To make things easier, prepare in advance. If you’ve been invited, ask for the goals and agenda, then use those to get your questions and ideas ready. If you’re leading the meeting, have a plan, and anticipate what might happen and what kinds of questions you might get asked.

Before the meeting, prepare yourself mentally. Take some time to get into the right mindset. Remind yourself to be present.

If you’re leading the meeting, feel free to start with some ground rules. You can ask everyone to raise hands instead of jumping in so that everyone gets a chance to speak. At Asana we switched our Design Critique to use hand raising and it’s really helped people share their ideas.

After the meeting, follow up with any questions or input you didn’t get a chance to share.

Sharing your work

It can be tempting to work alone for long stretches of time, iterating until you feel really good about the results. Unfortunately, this can set you up to miss out on helpful feedback or go in the wrong direction and waste a lot of time.

It never feels good to waste time, and sometimes it just takes one bad experience to motivate you to share earlier. Even before you have things fleshed out, you can ask for feedback on the direction and start getting buy-in. Some introverts find it helpful to set a rule for themselves: I’m going to share whatever I have in 3 days, even if it’s not done.

Don’t assume that other people don’t want to be bothered. In my experience people on the product team love to be included early, and that’s when their feedback will be the most helpful.

Building 1:1 Relationships

Relationship building might be the most important technique for introverted PMs — it’s much less energetically draining to work with people when you feel close to them.

If you feel shy about asking people to meet one on one, you can start over email, or ask your manager to help out. When you’re new to a team you can mention that you’d like to meet people in your intro announcement and some of them might reach out first!

Team dinners are another way to get to know people outside of work. Getting out of the office can help you focus the conversation away from work and towards getting to know each other.

If you find the chit-chat at dinner & drinks exhausting, consider more structured activities like puzzle hunts or go-karting. Activities where you learn a new team sport like curling or sailing can be fun too.

Use your Superpowers

At Asana’s leadership training class, we talked about how each personality type has its own superpowers. As an introvert, don’t forget about your strengths!

Many introverts are good listeners and can help draw out great ideas from people who haven’t spoken up. You might be especially good at working with people one-on-one, or working with people who like their space.

Your ability to focus and think deeply can lead you to very well thought out product designs. You might be better able to observe and notice the problems that other people miss.

Want to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly? Asana is hiring PMs of all personality types!

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