Product Managers & Motivation: Fewer Promises, More Action

Motivation. Often discussed, highly valued. Typically written about from the standpoint of a functional or department manager. But what about Product Managers? Just how motivational can they be?

A PM’s influence over an employee’s role and responsibilities - or salary and benefits - is usually not at the level of other managers’. This can lead to empty phrases like the short-sighted “I’ll buy your next coffee,” the overused “I owe you one” and the untimely “I’ll pass on a good review.” Semi-sincere promises that lack action. So, what can a PM actually do to motivate team members?

My answer is simple: Reduce the roadblocks and manage the work to come.

Katerina Douskova - Product manager

Focus your efforts on identifying things that hinder the flow of work, everything else is secondary.

Focus on removing roadblocks. That’s the number one thing a PM can do for his/her project team.

By roadblock, I mean anything that impedes the workflow, negatively impacting the team’s productivity. This includes untimely questions, unclear client requests, undefined product specs or uncommunicated projects requirements. These distractions take away from what your team is here to do - what your team wants to be doing.

I can guarantee that designers and developers enjoy their job. They don’t want to be distracted by bullshit.

So, remove the roadblocks. Let everyone do what they enjoy doing, and watch your projects’ team dynamics and relationships improve and evolve. People will remember that you cleared the way for them. They’ll thank you for handling the distractions, allowing them to do their job.


Another thing to keep in mind? “A clear vision drives behavior.” A straightforward schedule or list of priorities allows team members to flow seamlessly from task to task. That’s productivity. Just make sure to review these documents routinely throughout the life cycle of the product, and communicate the changes when necessary.

Whichever tools you or your company utilizes in managing the work, don’t forget to communicate clearly. To do so, you must not only know but understand your team’s personalities. Learn to adapt the way you communicate to match who you are working with.

The PM’s approach to motivation should never come with monetary value. The value is in having a clear vision of how to complete the task at hand, and knowing what to expect down the line.

It’s not about monetary initiatives. Reduce the roadblocks and manage the work to come.

Provide an environment that allows your team to do what they do best.    

Create, develop, deploy and repeat.

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Katerina Douskova

Katerina Douskova

Product Manager at STRV

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