I've had lunch with Gregor Smrekar on Tuesday. Gregor heads software engineering at Celtra so he was very much interested to hear about my transition from engineering management to product management and how did my view of engineering management changed now that I'm customer of engineering service and no longer the one responsible for providing them. I've told Gregor that the biggest difference I see is that now product comes first and people second. If before, in my capacity of VP of Engineering, I've cared deeply about well-being, motivation, and other circumstances of individual contributors and overall team, I now care mostly just about the results they deliver. Of course, I have vested interest in productivity of engineers so I try to help engineering management as much as possible with motivation of engineers, but I have little sympathy for bending goals to the whims of engineers if that interferes with product roadmap too much.
One other big difference that I see between product and engineering management is that product managers live mostly in the future while engineering managers are very much grounded in the present. Once I specify what needs to be build and why, and I communicate my expectations to engineers, the feature is already implemented as far as I'm concerned and I immediately start planning how I'll exploit the new feature for the benefit of the product and what new features should come next. The whole time between feature request and feature being implemented is quite boring as far as I'm concerned and very much frustrating since I'd prefer for a feature to be implemented immediately without whining from engineers. Maybe that's the reason I've started using much more expletive-laden language when discussing things with engineers immediately after I took over my new role.