UX designers and product management professionals can be considered to be two peas in the same pod. They share a collaborative and mutually productive relationship that helps to create a successful product. Both of these professionals work for the good of the product, as well as the betterment of a company on the whole. However, not all product managers [PM] and UX teams work like a well-oiled machine. Many tend to face a lot of problems, which can ultimately hamper the quality of the products developed by them. Hence, it is important for teams to look out for signs that product management and UX professionals are not collaborating in a way that they should. Early signs of a dysfunctional relationship between professionals can help in rectifying them at their fledging stage so that they do not create any problems later on.
Here are some of the signs that the UX relationship with the product manager may need improvement:
- Their way or no way: Like many important professionals, several PMs tend to have a distinct "my way or the high way" attitude. UX professionals can quickly identify this characteristic within their first few meetings with them. While at times, such PMs might listen to what others may have to say, they usually tend to wrap up meetings with their own thoughts and ensure they have the final say. To deal with such situations, UX professionals can try to center their points around the UX process in meetings, as they would have superior knowledge about this domain. By talking about the area they specialize in, UX professionals can introduce a level of comfort in a meeting, ensure that everyone understands their perspective, and get the chance to acquire feedback that is within their control. The key here is to make the PM understand the deep knowledge the UX professional has while providing them with an insight on how UX functions interact with other business aspects
- The power trip: In many cases, UX professionals might be faced with PMs who gave a certain sense of entitled control over the relevant product. To an extent, a level of self-entitlement is understandable as they indeed are responsible for the product. However, it is also crucial for them to have an adequate appreciation for UX and how it can help improve the product. When dealing with highly entitled PMs, just working on the UX process and delivering good results may not be sufficient. UX professionals may be required to use the "show them, and they will come" tactic in order to truly grab their attention. They can ideally use data to illustrate their points. Having a visual can additionally help the PMs to understand their perspective and their contribution to the output better.
- Dictates how: Certain product managers try to dictate how exactly they should do their job and complete a task. For example: On a website, there is a requirement to add a function to enable the users to download a file; however, the PM may tell to implement the feature in a specific manner that would not give the best UX results. Such PMs often think that everyone has to implement what they say, but forget that they are not letting the UX professionals do their job adequately. In such scenarios, the UX designers should try and figure out the most effective way through which they can most efficiently do the task and show the PM their competency for the job. While the designers should definitely incorporate inputs from the PM, they must keep in mind at all times that UX is their expertise, and they must remind the product managers about the same as well.
Both the Product Management and UX teams of companies can learn a lot from each other, and hence it is always better for a business that they positively collaborate instead of trying to hinder each other's tasks.