One of the best things about working on a product management solution is getting to interact with so many talented product managers. In the past year alone, we’ve spoken with thousands of PMs who come to us looking for a better way to make product decisions.

In our conversations, we’ve heard how product managers split their time listening to their users, prioritizing what to build next, and executing on their roadmap. Regardless of company size, product, or industry, we’ve found some common threads in the way PMs describe their roles.

So here’s to the many facets of the role of the product manager! Read on for some thoughts shared by members of the productboard community on the many hats they wear and the roles they embody in their day-to-day work as PMs.

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Psychologist

“As a product manager, I have to dissect user feedback about the product or feature requests and understand the psychology behind users’ suggestions. Sometimes users may request a feature that might actually lead to a result that is the opposite what they want to achieve. For example, a user may request the capability to get more feedback from the team but their request might be more of an issue with their team’s dynamics and a symptom of a lack of trust within the team rather than the product. Understanding this complexity is a crucial part of building our application, since it’s all about understanding human psychology.”

–Tim Clauwert, CEO/Co-founder of Intuo.io

Inventor

“As a PM, you’re in the middle of a perfect storm of all the problems you hear from your customers. By drawing inspiration from unlikely sources and employing the latest technologies in creative ways, you can create something new and beautiful… something that solves people’s problems in a new way… something that hasn’t been done before.”

–Hubert Palan, CEO of productboard

Detective/Butcher

“My role at PandaDoc could be described as Detective and Butcher at the same time – for every new feature I do extensive research with the customers and stakeholders to understand what really needs to be built and try to think of the best possible solution to address these needs. At the same time, I need to boil down this wishlist to the essential minimum viable requirements which we can easily build, launch and iterate on later with a lean team.”

–Tanya Aulachynskaya, Product Manager at PandaDoc

Firefighter

“I can definitely relate to the Firefighter as as a new PM coming from the Customer Experience/Success world. 😏 The world of product management has been very eye opening coming from various customer-facing roles. There are more plates to balance than you can imagine and trying to satisfy every stakeholder when prioritizing what to build can feel like a pipe dream. This already impossible task gets even more complex when fires begin to ignite all around you after a release inevitably goes wrong. Navigating these issues can be made easier when you’re able to confidently prioritize fires to be put out. Understanding the difference between critical and convenient will allow you to keep customers happy and your team sane. Some fires are non-negotiable and need to be put out. Other fires can be left alone to burn for a while.”

–Jacob Pitcher, Customer Experience Lead at HeyOrca

Quarterback

“As a PM, you’re often best positioned in the company to learn about product ideas from your coworkers. By knowing how to effectively communicate your product roadmap you can set expectations while at the same time encouraging idea generation throughout the company.”

–Nick Mauro, Product Manager at SevenFifty

Diplomat

“In any company, you will have to work with people who want different things. Everyone has ideas, after all. As a product manager, you need to manage the vision and take people on a journey. Given how many people are involved in an organization – with emotions, egos, unique styles, and different goals – the human element of any business makes building things hard. At times, that requires a lot of diplomacy and emotional agility. Half the time the job is just getting different departments to a ‘productive state of dysfunction’ so everyone is aligned and you can do right by the users.”

–Brad Dunn, Head of Product and Customer Experience at GeoOp

Director

“As a product manager, I work collaboratively across the organization to incorporate diverse roles into the product development process. By leveraging the unique creativity of my colleagues, we come up with the best possible solutions. Of course, every team member has their own opinion and sometimes productive disagreements arise. We like to embrace discourse because it helps bring issues to the surface and allows us to build a better product for our customers in the end.”

–Peter Pilat, Product Manager at productboard

Conductor

“Before I arrived at Supermood, features flowed directly from sales to the dev team. No marketing, no prioritization, no customer success in the loop. My role is to make sure everyone knows about every change at each step, and that we take enough time to properly market it, train customer success reps, etc. I also help everyone understand why something has more priority than something else, so that we all work to reach the same goals.”

–Claire Van de Voorde, Product Manager at Supermood