Product Management is one of the most fulfilling, challenging and fun jobs in the tech industry. The move to the product side is a natural evolution for engineers who start getting fascinated with commercial side of how a product “works” and how users interact with products. Though the technical background helps these engineers, here are a set of soft skills that are absolutely critical. Most of these skills are often missing in Product manager job description that companies publish.
Communication is key:
When you have to align data and information between technology, business, and user experience, it is crucial to constantly communicate with your team on how and where the product is heading and constantly steer it towards product brief and vision.
Keep moving. Making incremental progress helps provide clarity on the subject and makes decisions easier.
Amit Kumar Singh, Senior VP, Product Manager, 99acres
Decisions, decision, decisions:
Don’t get lost in the paralysis of analysis. Play with the data you have, remember the market research, tap into intuition – keep all the multiple perspectives in mind — and make decisions to lead the change. Also be quick to learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them.
According to Amit Kumar Singh, Senior VP, Product Manager, 99acres, “Keep moving. Making incremental progress helps provide clarity on the subject and makes decisions easier. Making faster decisions and measuring impact helps product managers to pivot faster. It is a key skill that needs to be developed and nurtured.”
The big picture:
Don’t let limitations – budgets, manpower, deadlines, you get the picture — stop you from thinking big when it comes to increasing and improving upon the product. As Marty Cagan in his book, How to create products customers love says, make the product valuable, usable and feasible. Think out-of-the-box to find freedom from limitation. Keeping the big picture in mind also means that although your days might be fraught with incidents that will need firefighting, don’t get lost in the details and keep the product brief fresh in your mind – get a tattoo about it, if you must.
According to Charat Maheshwari, Senior Product Manager, Adobe, this can be accomplished by keeping the customer in focus at all times. “This helps with the big picture view and you are able to piece together the story for what will work for the customer.”
He adds how, in reality, a lot of effort goes into aligning business with technology. “Thus, the product manager may have to spend hours aligning the teams. But finally, it is the customer who will decide if the offering is worth the money or not”, he sums.
Needless to say, when you are heading a team that is made of different people – software engineers, technicians, marketers, sales people, product designers, customer service and others, you need to be able to manage different temperaments. Additionally, you will need to have those cross-functional abilities in top shape, as well as oodles of patience and an insight into human behavior.
Learn, unlearn, relearn:
This is, perhaps, one of the most important lesson that will hold you in good stead as a product manager. In the fact-changing world of an even-faster changing technological scenario, it is important to learn about trends and tenets. It is even more important to unlearn them when they become outdated and make place for the new.
Are you looking at product manager job description in various job posts and wondering if you are eligible or not? Do keep these skills and challenges in mind. Best is to start practising these skills in your current role, wherever applicable.