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Applying Vision-Led Product Management in the real world.

Getting Peer Feedback as a Product Manager

Posted by Rajesh Nerlikar | July 15 2019

Product management requires collaboration across many disciplines to make the product successful, so it's important to understand how those colleagues view you as a partner in achieving some common set of goals.  In general, I measure the performance of product managers in two dimensions:

great product managers get great results through great collaboration

  • The actual results of their product (as defined on agreed-upon KPIs)
  • How they achieved those results (in terms of their ability to collaborate effectively with teammates)

Getting feedback from people you work with every day can be hard and perhaps even awkward.  Here's what I recommend, based on positive experiences doing this with my own team of product managers.

1. Create a Feedback Survey

I typically used Google Forms to create a short, simple survey with a few questions:

  • How is {person X} is doing as a product manager? (1 - horrible, 5 - awesome)
  • What is {person X} doing well? Please provide specific examples. (short answer / paragraph)
  • What could {person X} be doing better? Please provide specific examples. (short answer / paragraph)

It's important to make the survey anonymous so people feel free to provide honest feedback.  Feel free to add 1-2 other questions based on the situation (but not more than that).

2. Send it Regularly

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 4.47.26 PM

I asked my direct reports to let me know each quarter who they had collaborated with closely over the past few months so I could solicit feedback from those people.  Here's a draft email you could send to your manager with a link to the survey:

Hey {manager},

I'd like to solicit feedback from my peers on how I'm doing on a regular basis.  Could you forward this email to {list of people you want feedback from}?  After I get the responses, I'll review them myself, identify themes and review them with you during our next 1:1.

Thanks,

Rajesh

====================== FEEDBACK EMAIL ======================

SUBJECT: feedback survey for Rajesh

Hello Rajesh's peers,

Could you take 15 seconds to fill out this short anonymous feedback survey by {deadline - ideally 2-3 business days from today}?

{URL}

Thanks in advance, and please let me know if you’d like to discuss anything related to Rajesh’s performance directly with me.

Done.  With just a few minutes effort once a quarter (my recommended cadence for collecting feedback), you and your manager can start identifying areas of improvement based on how your colleagues perceive you.

3. Summarize Feedback / Make an Action Plan

Look for key themes in the "what's going well" / "what could be better" buckets.  Yes, I know - you're only working with a few data points.  But that's better than no data points, and the reality is great product managers only need to collaborate well with a handful of individuals.  In addition to summarizing key themes, identify 2-3 things you want to change in the coming months to address the feedback you got.  Document your key themes and action plan.

4. Review Results with Your Manager

Take the time to share the results with your manager prior to your next 1:1 and call out some of the key themes / your proposed action items.  Sharing it before your meeting will give him/her time to review the results and prepare their own thoughts.

Topics: Coaching

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