A company is only as strong as the quality of its products. So is the reason why every company – especially software companies – absolutely must hire the right product managers to ensure efficient production and optimal functionality.
A great product manager will tweak and toggle with an idea until it perfectly suits the vision of their company, until its features are designed with customer needs in mind, and until that product is really ready to hit the market.
Though one can synthesize the role of a PM into just a few sentences and buzzwords, the expansive set of responsibilities entrusted to one is everything but simple. The multidimensional nature of product management demands a PM with multifaceted skills, the most important of which I will discuss below:
A PM is essentially the CEO of whatever product he or she is managing. Just as a CEO must think deeply about the vision of their company, a PM must spend the time necessary to definitively decide what it is that they want from their product.
Beyond that, a product manager must understand how their brain-child affects the company for which they work on the macro-level. You don’t want to be a PM with tunnel vision – it’s important to be focused, but it’s even more important to be able to see the small and big picture at once.
However, a firm vision and deep recognition of your product’s essence isn’t enough. A truly skilled product manager must be sufficiently articulate and understanding to keep their team focused, regardless of what unexpected difficulties arise. If you want to be a great project manager, try to see the big picture without compromising on the present, and couple that with an effort to clearly articulate your vision to your team at every point in production.
If you want to be a great project manager, try to see the big picture without compromising on the present, and couple that with an effort to clearly articulate your vision to your team at every point in production.
It’s human nature to invest more of yourself into something you truly care about. You could be the smartest person in the world and fail to keep up with less-intelligent, but superiorly passionate peers. When it comes to being a great PM, it’s crucial that you channel passion into your product, and let that passion show in the hopes that it will infect others.
I’ve met people whose passion bleeds through the words of simple things like emails, text messages, or casual conversations. If you’re lucky to feel that strongly about your work, channel it in a way that generates excitement and high performance.
Firm yet Understanding
One of the most difficult parts of being a leader is putting people in their place. This is twice as difficult when you have to scold someone you respect. No matter how difficult, though, being firm and assertive is one of many demands when guiding a team through the lifecycle of a product. When interacting with your team, be sure to communicate in a way that warrants respect, not fear.
Be someone who listens intently to the voice of your team, but know when to firmly set them back on track. Again, a PM is basically a mini-CEO, so it’s critical that you develop the emotional intelligence to manage the competing desires and sometimes toxic complications that arise within your team. If you strike a balance between earning respect and firmly demanding excellence, odds are your team will produce a great product.
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Humble and Collaborative
I’ve grouped these two essential characteristics together because I believe one breeds the other. In my opinion, humility in product management is the recognition that one does not know everything. It’s not enough to possess superior intellect, superior intelligence, and superior perspective; you must constantly look to others for ways to improve.
Being a PM who grows complacent will halt the progress of your entire company. Be someone who has a thirst for knowledge and a clear recognition that learning never stops.
If you take on this approach, you’ll become someone who’s not only willing, but eager to collaborate with others – even those well below you on the totem pole. This will lead to a product vision that’s the direct result of a vast array of ideas and perspectives.
Again, tunnel-vision is toxic to your product’s success. Creating a product based on diverse – even competing – opinions will help you produce a well-rounded product.
It’s not enough to oversee the lifecycle of a product, only to forget about it once it’s released. A PM should be willing to go the extra mile to ensure sustained product success. This means taking customer feedback into consideration, updating and tweaking features to stay in-tune with an evolving market, and doing what it takes to increase the likelihood of increased activation and continued use of your product. A lifecycle doesn’t end at launch – it continues indefinitely and demands consistent updates and reimagining.
It may be beneficial to familiarize yourself with online-navigation software that can aid you in analyzing customer needs and help you communicate tasks. The soft-skills mentioned above are great, but hard skills (like familiarity with such software) are what can make you indispensable.
Product managers have the unique power to make or break the success of a company. As I said earlier – what is a company if not the quality of its products? Without a PM who embodies the traits detailed above, a company may very well miss the mark come time for product launch.
A brilliant idea can turn into a magnificent bust without proper guidance and a firm vision. Work to embody these qualities and you’ll take your company to the next level.