Perspectives on Product Management Job Satisfaction

I’ve been collecting data to find out if product managers are happy and engaged in their jobs.   I was motivated to do so because so many product managers say that they don’t have the proper resources and tools.

You all know that you’re working with limited resources and must focus your work on strategically important activities that create competitive advantage and happy customers.  There’s no surprise on this, and people will always complain about too much to do.  In this post, I’ll share some information with you from the product manager job satisfaction survey.

The top 3 areas that are directly related to their satisfaction on the job:

  1. The reputation they earn
  2. The people with whom they work (cross-functionally)
  3. Intellectually challenging work

The top 3 areas that contribute to dissatisfaction:

  1. Potential to advance
  2. Empowered to make decisions
  3. Confidence in senior leadership

Based on the survey responses, it’s clear that product managers are happier when they are supported by their bosses.

Interestingly, being associated with a particular industry contributes a lot, as well as the reputation of the company in which they work within that industry or sector. Many product managers indicated that they are energized when they get to work directly with customers.

Product Manager Job Satisfaction

On another plane, product managers are still frustrated because people in other departments or functions just don’t understand the role of product management (as a function) and the role they play as product managers.

Overall, job satisfaction seems to lean positively with 7% reported to be extremely satisfied, 36% who are satisfied.  46% are somewhat satisfied, and with those people, it’s more about the company environment, culture, and their bosses.  9% are not satisfied at all.  I can see the bell-shaped curve… can you?

In analyzing the “suggestions to improve product manager job satisfaction” from the respondents, I’ve summarized them into a few points:

  • Put product managers in job levels that better reflect their knowledge, experience, and contribution.   It’s not a one-size-fits-all job.
  • When companies are global, it’s critical to improve market intelligence from the local geographies.
  • Leaders should support product managers with the same level of energy as they do to the developers and engineers.  Just because product managers don’t ‘develop’ the product, their insights, oversight, and synchronization are no less valuable.
  • Provide greater levels of transparency to product managers with respect to corporate strategies. This will better enable the product managers to fine-tune their own product strategy.
  • Improve tools and systems to analyze increasing amounts of data coming into the company.  Product managers in data-intensive environments need to extract useful information from this data.
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