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How to Advance in Your Career

Uncategorized Oct 21, 2020

How do product managers advance in their careers? 

Here is a fact: You are not in the room for the most important decisions that get taken about your career.  Everything is happening through stakeholders. The only reason you advance in your career is that you've built those relationships with your stakeholders over time that has ultimately led them to advocate for you to succeed in your career. 

The more they have confidence in you, the more you have demonstrated skills to them, the more likely they're going to bat for you when it comes to making that next decision on who gets that fantastic project.

Advancement in your career is cyclical. You learn skills and demonstrate them, which helps build better relationships with your stakeholders. They gain confidence in your abilities and give you more opportunities, which leads to more skill development. 

Many times some product managers who've gotten the support of stakeholders advance at a fast pace. And those that haven't, they're entirely stagnant or going backward.

You have to get strategic, but you also have to be patient. It’s going to take some effort initially, but once you get things going, the amount of effort you have to put in is limited.

FULL TRANSCRIPTION:

Hey everyone, this is Shobhit. Now, I'm here today to go live and talk a bit about some thoughts I've recently had about how do product managers advance in their careers?

And really there's one core thing that you must understand about most career advancement, especially when it comes to product manager career advancement, which is that most of the really important decisions that get taken about your career, you're not in the room for it. You're not present. Other people are deciding. Decisions such as who gets that sexy project with the high visibility? Or who's given the next media assignment? Who gets promoted? Who goes and heads the office in another city? Who's put on a performance improvement plan? Who gets how much bonus?

All these things are happening without you in the room. So what does that mean? That means everything is happening through sponsors, through stakeholders. It means that the only way you really advance in your career is because you've built those relationships with your stakeholders over time that has ultimately led them to advocate for you to get that project, for you to get that promotion, for you to go and advance in your career.

Now here's how it actually works. Think of it this way. You're always demonstrating certain skills to your stakeholders, and so there is that level of what is the kind of relationship and confidence your stakeholders have in you? The more they have confidence in you, the more you have demonstrated skills to them, the more likely they're going to bat for you when it comes to make that next decision on who gets that awesome project, who gets that awesome next assignment. And if they go to bat for you, if you get that awesome assignment, that assignment is itself a way for you to both build and demonstrate these awesome skills and further expand the level of confidence the stakeholders have in you.

So in some sense, it's a loop. You're learning skills, you're demonstrating them, that is building better relationships and confidence in stakeholders on you with you, that is giving you more projects and more opportunities, and it just keeps going. So what happens is many times some product managers who've gotten the support of stakeholders. They keep advancing at a fast pace. And those that haven't, those that haven't, they're completely stagnant, if not going back.

It's a very virtuous cycle. It's a very circular loop that once you kickstart in motion ... I've seen people who are doing amazingly well, moving rapidly fast, but at this point they're not working hard at all at their jobs. It just seems that they're coasting, but they still keep getting the advancement and all those things and that's because all those things have been built up over time. While others are still, despite working crazy hours, they're struggling.

All this ultimately boils down to this. Once you understand the cycle, you need to now get very strategic about the kind of skills you build, the kind of skills you demonstrate, the kind of relationships you build and the kind of assignments you take. And look, there is another, that's part one, you got to get strategic, but the other thing you have to get is you have to get patient.

You realize that there is no way that in the course of a couple of months, you can change everything if things are not going fine for you, other than maybe changing your job. There will be one change that you will make. Maybe it's a relationship. Maybe it's a skill you built up that you start to demonstrate. Maybe it's the assignment that you get. That will kick off this virtuous cycle, and you've got to keep it going.

You've got to keep it going and realize that just like, think of it this way. You're riding a bike, it's circular. The wheels are turning. Now to get the bike going, especially if you're going uphill. If you are sort of not in the best position right now, it's going to take some effort in the beginning. It's going to take some patients before the bike really gets going. But once the bike gets going, think of it this way. It's that the bike's going and now the effort you need to put is limited. And at some point, it's almost like you're going downhill, where even if you stop peddling, you're still going fast. You're still advancing through your career, and that can happen like that.

I've seen that happened for people in a relatively short amount of time, which means the order of a few months, not years, just a few months. But you've got to have the right strategy for that, the right mindset for that and know exactly how do relationships get built. Exactly the right skills that people don't perceive, that people perceive that, "Hey, you lack these skills." You've got to have crystal clear clarity on that. And that's really the lesson for the day, is that you can build all these things.

And look, my coaching, my Product Leader Blueprint Program, it's all built around this central concept. That you, without a lot, without a great amount of effort and without a huge amount of time, with the right mindset, with building the right skills, with getting clarity and self-reflection and feedback from others, you can turn a career around. You can go in a place where you feel completely stuck to where you are cycling downhill and you really don't need to put much effort and you're still moving fast in your career.

So that's my goal live for today. As usual, you want to learn more about how you might do it. You want to spend some time and you and me personally talking through your career and building a step-by-step plan, go to leadtheproduct.com. I'll also allow also leave the link behind this video. Set up that time with me.

You might not find time in the next couple of days. It might already be booked out for a while. Things are getting quite busy here. But whenever you find the time, book it. Don't let that appointment go because you might not get it for another few weeks if you don't book it now, and then let us get on the phone and chat. It was great seeing you and I look forward to seeing everyone very, very soon, take care.

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