Were you ready to be a remote PM when COVID struck? Are you finding yourself still remote 2 years later?
Or maybe you’re back in the office, but your company embraced remote work, so some of your team is distributed elsewhere?
Regardless of your situation, if you or part of your team is not co-located with you right now, you have special challenges as a product manager. What works in office doesn’t always work remotely.
That’s why I knew we needed to bring in an expert to talk about remote product leadership during this season of Practical Product.
And Valentina brought the knowledge. She’s been leading remote teams for over a decade and teaching others with her courses and consulting for much of that time.
We had an amazing, 95-minute conversation covering a wide range of topics that any manager leading a fully or partially remote team needs to hear.
And if you’re thinking about changing jobs and joining a remote organization, you’ll want to listen in too, because we specifically talked about the transition you’ll have to make as well.
How to Succeed as a Remote Product Leader (even if you’re new to it)
Some jobs are not that different doing them remote versus in person. For example, a sales rep may have to sit and make the same calls, send the same emails, and generally have identical tasks that if anything, might be easier in a quiet environment remotely.
For a highly collaborative role like product management, that’s not the case. A LOT changes.
What works in person, doesn’t always work remotely, and often, the solutions aren’t even a 1 to 1 trade. Instead, you have to reinvent entire workflows and processes to fit the different way of working remotely.
Today’s discussion with Valentina Thörner goes deep on exactly these things.
You can listen on your favorite platform or in the player below:
Highlights of the episode include discussing:
A deep dive on remote vs. in person communication advice, and great team construction:
- (1:43) – What are some of the biggest changes when someone shifts to a remote PM role?
- (11:38) – How can a Remote PM be successful?
- (14:55) – How can Remote PMs understand how their team is feeling and reacting to their work and communication in an asynchronous environment?
- (24:00) – Do you think the ideal product team size is different for remote vs. in-person?
- (26:54) – How do you avoid meeting & Zoom fatigue / overload?
- (42:16) – How do you create the collaborative juices from a whiteboarding session for a remote team?
- (48:48) – How often do Remote product teams need to be together in person?
- (51:53) – How much would you think about geolocation when it comes to constructing pods?
If you’re thinking about working as a remote PM or want to find a great remote company:
- (58:49) – What are ways PM’s can prepare themselves for the shift to a remote-first organization?
- (1:04:54)- What questions would you recommend asking when sussing out if a remote company is the right fit?
- (1:14:15) – What skills would you recommend developing for folks looking to become remote PM’s?
- (1:20:32) – What are good ways for folks to build their writing and communication skills?
- (1:27:10) – Are there any more skills people need to develop to be great Remote PM’s?
Key Show Notes & Further Reading:
– Books and other helpful links from today’s episode:
Many books and great blog posts were mentioned in this episode. Here’s a rundown of the books:
- Asking good questions and winning negotiations: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
- Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff & Mark Johnson
- Learn to work with others better with: The 4 Tendencies – Analyzing Motivations by Gretchen Ruben
- Learn to be a better writer and communicator with: On Writing Well by William Zinssser
And blog posts for you to read:
- Learn how to connect with anyone on your team by Building Rapport
- Hear another interview with Valentina focused on general remote leadership with the Lighthouse’s Conversation w/ Valentina
- Learn how to have innovative discussions with your team and whiteboard remotely with Brainwriting (this is a Miro template for it)
- Learn how to facilitate meetings well and communicate with your team better:
- Valentina recommends Workshop Wednesdays and Make Team Work
- And Remote-How.com is a marketplace for more help with remote challenges
- One of the best ways to build connection across departments and teams is with Peer 1 on 1s.
- Learn how to use Peer 1 on 1s across teams
- Learn more specifically how to use peer 1 on 1s as a product manager here
- Learn from Valentina on LinkedIn: “What should they ask in interviews to tell if the company does remote well?”
– Connect with and learn more about Valentina Thörner:
- Valentina on LinkedIn and the company she works for Klaus
- Valentina’s Website
- Valentina’s Substack
- And her book: From A Distance – A Practical Guide to Remote Leadership by Valentina Thörner
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