I’m guessing that you wouldn’tgo to work naked. Then why-oh-why are heading off to your product management job when you don’t have all of the skills that you’ll need to do the job correctly?
I’m not sure if this is going to make you feel any better, but it turns out that most product managers are showing up for work only partially dressed when you consider what skills they are missing. Maybe we’d better have a talk about this…
Can You Communicate?
All too often, we marketing folks assume that good communication skills simply means that you have the ability to get up in front of a group of people and deliver a speech without bursting into flames. Yes, this is good skill to have, but a product manager has to have more.
Remember, communication is a two-way street and not only does a product manager need to be able to tell others what to do, but you are also going to have to be able to listen to what others are telling you.
No, we’re not talking about having the ability to sit there and listen when someone else is talking to you just waiting for them to pause so that you can start talking again. Instead, a product manager needs to be able to listen, process what has been said, and then ask good, pointed questions that will help get to the bottom of any discussion.
Just to round things out, a product manager also needs to have the communication skill that will allow them to “close” a discussion. This is when you ask a final question and then have the strength to keep you mouth closed and allow the other person to provide an answer. This is how you wrap things up cleanly.
Promote, Promote, Promote!
All too often product managers seem to have a “build it and they will come” sort of attitude. They believe that if they do a good job then the rest of the company will realize it and their value to the company will increase. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
What product managers need to be doing is constantly promoting both themselves and their product. Now you have to be careful here, note that I didn’t say “bragging”. The difference is subtle, but important.
One way that a product manager can show the value of both his position as well as the value that his / her product brings to the company is to become the thought leader on all things about the market that the product addresses. By researching what drives the market and then taking the time to educate the rest of the company about what customers are really looking for, both the product manager and their product will become recognized as a valuable resource.
Make A Friend (or Two)
Within the world of marketing, there is often a “loner” attitude that many of us hold: I can do it all by myself. As a product manager, you need to stop thinking this way and start making as many contacts as you can.
A product manager is only as strong as his / her network and that means taking the time to develop real relationships with as many people as possible. Not all product managers have this skill.
What All Of This Means For You
If you really want to become a successful product manager, you’ve got some work to do. There are a set of skills that you’ll need to develop in order to ensure that both your career and your product get the kind of positive attention that you both deserve.
In order to become a successful product manager, you’re going to have to have the ability to be a good two-way communicator. You’ll have to learn to spend your time tirelessly promoting both your product’s value as well as your own value to the company. Finally, you are going to have to get good at that critical job skill: networking.
None of these three skills are impossible to do. However, the key to being a successful product manager is to get good at doing all three at the same time…!
Question For You: Which of these three skills do you think is the most important for a product manager to have?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Every product manager likes to think that once their customer has purchased their product, that’s the end of the story. The reality is just a bit different: for a whole bunch of reasons, our customers can change their mind about buying our product and decide to return it. What’s a product manager to do when this happens?