The Characteristics of a Bad Product Manager

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It goes without saying that bad product managers do and have the opposite traits of everything mentioned above. However here are some additional characteristics of bad product managers. 

Bad product managers ascribe blame

A bad product manager ascribes blame when things don’t go as expected. 

Rather than acting as a leader and focusing on what went wrong and how to address it they fixate their attention on who made the mistake.

Even worse when they are at fault for an error they find a scapegoat to take the heat.

Good product managers focus on the problem at hand, not necessarily the person.

Bad product managers are passive

A bad product manager does not take initiative.

Bad product managers don’t take the necessary steps to do what needs to be done to drive their roadmap forward, reach company goals, delight customers, and enable their team and company for success. 

Bad product managers let things happen as they may and are primarily reactive. They also wait for instructions to be given to them before they make a move.

Being passive is extremely detrimental in the tech industry because events are fast paced and multiple events can happen in a short amount of time.

Good product managers always try to ensure that they are taking the right actions to stay ahead of their competition.

Bad product managers say yes to everything

Bad product managers take orders and directives and implement them immediately. 

Good product managers assess directives and determine if they may make sense for the product and business, and (respectfully) challenge requests and redirectives. Even if these requests come from senior leadership. 

Product managers utilize the disciplines of product management, gather inputs from their stakeholders, work to understand the reasoning behind inputs, and then make informed decisions on what to act upon. 

This is opposed to being a “yes” man and immediately acting upon a request. 

Contrary to popular belief the customer is not always right. 

Bad product managers are clueless

Adding to the above, bad product managers are not aware of what is happening with their product or their surroundings.

This includes how customers are using their product, the key challenges they face, their product’s KPIs, the next major item that needs to be validated before it makes it onto the roadmap, and more.

A product manager manages a product. 

Good product managers manage their products to the best of their ability as they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the product.

While other stakeholders may also play a role in a product’s failure, a good product manager takes the necessary steps to assess and mitigate risks to reach success. 

A bad product manager however would not even be aware of the risks involved. 

Check out Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager by Ben Horowitz, Co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most notable Silicon Valley based venture capital firms, where he speaks further on this topic.

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