By: Mark @Spectechular Silver
A product manager needs the skills to undertake a range of different tasks and the ability to manage available resources to produce a high-quality end result.
It takes an individual with the right set of skills and experiences to effectively balance all of the responsibilities of a product manager.
While there are countless qualities that would help to make a better product manager, there are a few characteristics that stand out as essential for a great product manager.
Empathy with Customers and Colleagues
One of the most valuable qualities a product manager can have is the ability to understand the thoughts and feeling of others. As Andrew Mason of Groupon wrote, “My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers.”
A great product manager needs to be able to empathize with customers to deliver a better product. The better product managers can understand customers, the better the final product will be able to meet the needs and desires of customers, ultimately leading to greater satisfaction.
It is also important for a product manager to be able to empathize with colleagues and employees. To achieve the best results, the product manager needs to be able to set reasonable goals for employees while also treating them with respect. This requires the empathy to understand how they feel.
Gartner Analyst Jake Sorofman says: “Empathy means putting your audience first.”
Resilience & the Ability to Adapt
With a complex endeavor like product management, something is bound to eventually go wrong. When this does happen the product manager needs to be able to adapt to the changing situation and make any necessary decisions to keep the project on track. This kind of adaptability is crucial because it also sets an example for other employees involved in the project.
An important part of resilience is planning for contingencies, in case a problem does arise. This allows you to pre-empt the problem and stay proactive, since you will already have a solution in place. Above all, the product manager needs to be able to keep things moving smoothly.
Innovation & Familiarity with Technology
The world of product management is rapidly changing with new advances in technology and innovative approaches to design. An effective product manager needs to be familiar with all of the available possibilities, so that he can choose the best option for the current product. If a product manager does not keep up with the latest in technology and innovation, his product will already be a step behind.
It is also important to be innovative and creative as a product manager. You have to know what came before, while also being brave enough to try a new direction. Rehashing the same old techniques will not produce the results you want.
Decisiveness & Decision-Making Ability
In “The Exceptional Product Manager: What is the Right Stuff?” Mark Tiedman stated that, “The best, most succinct definition I ever heard as to what my job as a product manager entailed was: “Your job is to make decisions.’”
Above all, the project manager is responsible for directing the development and implementation of the product. His decisions will ultimately shape the end product. A wavering product manager leaves his team and his project without direction, going around in circles and getting nothing done. Instead, product managers need to show confidence and commitment to their decisions.
While emphasizing decisiveness may make it seem like the product manager is all action and no thought, it’s important to remember that taking time to do more research or postponing moving forward are also viable decision options. The important thing is for the product manager to lead.
A product manager needs to have a diverse skillset to deal with a wide variety of challenges and tasks. While data and technical expertise are important, it is the exceptional attributes of a project manager that will truly make him stand out. Magnificent product managers are innovative and adaptable leaders who have the ability to understand others.
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