How to Evaluate Yourself as a Product Manager

Three ways to track your personal growth

As a Product Manager, you are generally evaluated based on product metrics and their alignment with business goals. While that’s important, I think it’s equally important to evaluate yourself at a personal level to track your individual growth as a Product Manager. Regardless of the outcomes you achieve as a team, some of which may not be in your control, your personal growth comes from developing and improving the core traits of being an effective Product Manager and a team leader.

In my mind, it boils down to three things:

1. Building and inspiring teams.

Product Management is team sport. Your success largely depends on the people around you. So the first metric you should be measuring yourself on is how effective you are working with people in general, and make sure the people part is squared away. At an individual level, do people trust you and respect you? Do they enjoy working with you? Without trust, it’s very hard to be effective as a product manager.

Second is hiring well and constantly making sure the team has the right skills and horsepower to succeed. You may or may not be a hiring manager, but you should actively be participating in hiring and ensure the team is setup for success.

Third is constantly inspiring the team with your vision and your actions. They need to feel good working on the product, feel empowered doing what they do, and feel a burning passion to solve the problem you've set out to solve. This is important because a lot of product management is believing and making people believe. Regardless of how much data you have, there’s no guarantee that your vision and roadmap will actually work. Every feature can fail, and some fail badly.

A lot of this is qualitative measurement and having a sense of where everyone's head is at.

2. Clarity of thought.

The best product visionaries do one thing extremely well: they articulate an inspiring vision and make the case with crystal clear clarity that cannot be refuted easily. That's the ‘art’ part of product management, and leadership in general — to bring clarity to situations and conversations, to be able to layout a good set of guiding principles for decision making and moving fast, often in ambiguous situations.

Communication to product managers is programming skill to engineers. It’s something you should treat with utmost care, and hone on a daily basis. Every document, email, wireframe, analysis, and everything else you produce should be clear, easy to read, and easy to understand. Every verbal conversation you’re part of should have clarity.

The way to measure this is to continuously look back at the last five or ten decisions and think about how effortlessly and efficiently they were made, how clear and thorough you were in your thinking and communication, and how quickly you were able to course correct when things didn't work out as expected.

3. Getting things done.

Finally this is the ability to just keep the trains moving on time and getting this done. This is the project management part of your job and you should be a master of it.

The metric is to look at overall execution times and continuously making structural, procedural, and cultural changes to improve overall speed of execution.

Originally published on Quora