Do you feel like your job title is “Product Manager” and all you do is features you’ve been told to do by management? Here are 6 ways to regain your ownership and initiative:
1) Speak up! — Let’s start with making sure your manager and the command chain are aware that you are underutilized. Product Manager should be able to make his/her own choices and set product direction. This is what you were trained for, not project management!
2) Take initiative! — You can do what you were asked and in parallel, develop your own ideas to present. Show the management you are the right person in the right position. If given the opportunity, you may impress them big time! Take that opportunity!
3) Use data to prove your ideas — What speaks to managers is data, specifically money-bringing data. If you can demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that what you bring to the table has potential, who knows? Perhaps management finally will be comfortable enough to delegate product decision competence to you — just as you expected when you were hired.
4) FIgure out a creative way to make your ideas a reality — Sometimes actions can speak better than words. Try to deliver what was expected of you and then some from your own ideas pile. If your initiatives will perform better than the mandated ones, perhaps you will be given the trust you need!
5) Try to understand the situation — Perhaps this is just temporary and the company is in a position, where very specific stuff needs to happen at a very specific time and there is no going around it. Sure, this should have been communicated to you already, but people are just people. Perhaps your predecessor was incompetent and management feels they need to still handhold their PM? If you understand why things are the way they are, maybe there will be a road to a resolution.
6) Find a better place — If you tried everything and you simply are treated as a project manager rather than a Product Manager, then there is no need to endure this situation. Start looking for a different position inside or outside your current company. Do be sure to tell your potential new boss about what you did for points 1–5 when asked what did you do to regain ownership as a Product Manager!