Product managers need to be multilingual

Not too long ago I was talking to one of the best product managers I know.

She and I were discussing what it takes to lead cross functional teams.

“Product Managers must be multilingual,” she said.

It was a “lightbulb” moment.

And no, we were not referring to the common meaning of multilingual.

Most PMs lead teams made of developers, QAs, project managers, designers, and more. Most of these individuals do not report to the product manager.

Yet the PM is responsible for leading and bringing all these team together for product success.

At the risk of pandering to stereotypes, it is useful to note that people in different roles care about different things and also speak a different language.

Dev teams care about learning new technologies and building cool features.

QAs may care about a functioning, bug-free, predictable product.

Sales will certainly care about the numbers and how the product can help them meet targets.

Support and services teams will care about ease of deployment, customer satisfaction ratings, notes of acknowledgement and so on.

If you want to succeed as a PM:

  • Understand what other teams care about
  • Learn to speak their language

Are you a multilingual PM?

Do you agree?