June 26, 2017

How to use your Emotional Intelligence to Better PM

Note : This blog is based on Vivek Bedi’s talk, The VP of Product at LearnVest on Product School.

As a Product Manager, you don’t only need to oversee the production process, but you also have to lead and motivate your team. After all, they are the people behind the success or the failure of the product. But the thing is that, they all have different personalities and come from very different backgrounds. You have the shy and introvert engineers, the extrovert developers, the young and goal driven marketers, the creative designers, etc. You also need to deal with the product’s users on a daily basis: Make sure that your clients are satisfied, understand clearly their asks and know how to approach each one. That’s why it is important to use your Emotional Intelligence in order to better assess your team and your end users' behaviors.



Imagine this!

If you have to release a product within 2 months and you have to choose the person you will be spending most of your time with, who would you choose? How would you describe this person?If your answer is one or more of the following adjectives : Patient, Empathetic, Thoughtful, Flexible, Hard worker… You may be interested in the soft skills of the person rather than his hard skills and IQ. Indeed, you want to work with a person you like but who also helps you process fast. In product Management, more than any other profession, the soft skills are extremely important.Imagine also receiving a request from a client for a feature that you would describe as obvious. You may have to explore your empathy since recognizing that not everyone interprets things the same way.

So What’s Emotional Intelligence ?

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people. (Source)So, Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) in a nutshell is defined as the ability to

  • Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions
  • Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others

How to leverage your Emotional intelligence for Product Management ?

Here are 8 Tips that we gathered from Vivek Bedi’s talk :

TIP 1 : Manage your lizard brain

When you get angry or upset, It’s important to know how to handle your impulsive acts especially those that are based on negative emotions. It is important to be aware of yourself, to identify and to manage your primary emotions.

TIP 2 : Empathize with your users

'' Fall in love with the problem, not the solution'' Waze, Cofounder Uri LevineThat’s why it is important to increase exposure time with your users in order to tackle their pain points and understand their expectations. After all, they are the users of the product you are building!

TIP 3 : Empathize with your team

Understand your people’s personalities. If you have to, make time for them outside of office hours to learn more about their personalities, their emotions, their passions and mainly what makes them tick. Whenever you need to motivate your team, you know how to address each one of the team! You just have to speak ‘’their language’’.How to get closer to them? Exchange warm greetings and smiles in the hallways. Let them talk and share their thoughts. Care about them by putting your ego aside. Besides, with time, you will be able to pick up their nonverbal clues !

TIP 4 : Don’t be a perfectionist

In some interviews, when asked about their weaknesses, some interviewees might respond with this common line ‘’ I would say that I am a perfectionist’’.Indeed, this adjective is pejoratif for Product Managers since It may turn on your defensive mode when your colleague gives you a honest and straightforward feedback, without complimenting your product. You may get stuck adjusting and re-adjusting a feature when it's not the most important one. There is no doubt that a PM have to be rigorous while executing. However, It is important to know that there is no wrong or right in Product Management. You need to embrace the fact that not everything will be perfect. The most important thing is to make sure that your end users are satisfied.

TIP 5 : Keep a Work-Life Balance

Obviously, this is important not only to PMs but to all active people out there. You need to have a healthy lifestyle in order to be productive and to preserve your own well-being. You may already know practices to stay healthy at Work, but somehow forget about them. We are here to remind you that drinking more water, eating healthy lunches, cleaning up your desk and stretching from now and then do make the difference.

TIP 6 : Embrace the change !

Product Managers live in the Grey (Check out the book: Living in the Grey). PMing isn’t a mathematical equation where you either get the answer right or Wrong. It is important to be flexible and adapt to the different dynamic situations.[bctt tweet="‘’The best things are often waiting for you at the exit of your comfort zone.’’ Karen Salmansohn" username="@Veamly"]

TIP 7 : Have a robust Emotional vocabulary

It’s important to use the right wordings to describe situations by underlying your feelings. When you want to express yourself, you don’t want to be misunderstood. You would like to have a richer vocabulary if want to make sure that the person in front of you gets you well.

TIP 8 : Neutralize toxic people

At work, you can’t be friends with everyone ! At the end of the day, you may not be able to get along with some people. That’s why, It is important to :

  • Find a common ground of understanding
  • Not hold grudges

Check out our next blog to read about which Management style to go for and when !