Debate

Should Product Managers Have Direct Reports?

Product managers have a LOT on their plates; sure, they have to juggle customer research, roadmaps, and wireframes. But they also have to keep the peace and make sure that communication channels are open between engineers, designers, and other stakeholders. That’s a lot of management – not just of things, but of people.

So we asked you, should PMs have direct reports? 73% of you said yes. That outcome probably reveals the makeup of our readership.

Our debaters, meanwhile, were actually not in favor of PMs having direct reports. They argue that people management is perhaps too much of an expectation of an already overloaded role. Focus on the product, they say — but isn’t the product people, too?

What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

No

It is the same as any other org. Individual PMs don't have direct reports, but the product organization has a hierarchy of PM, Director, VP, CPO.

Hubert Palan
CEO, ProductBoard
Depends

It's all about context with this one. If you are a small product team of one PM and one designer, then maybe. But if you're an established team with a product org hierarchy then no, a PM is an individual contributor and not a people manager.

Holly Kennedy
Head of Product, 15Five
No

Product managers should not have direct reports. It gets in the way of their day-to-day activities that are dramatically tactical. They are a one-person CEO/dynamo/startup for a single or small collection of offerings. Requiring management skills in that situation/role highlights an organizational issue.

Jeff Coyle
Chief Product Officer, MarketMuse
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