What Does a Product Manager Do?
The product manager, put simply, is the glue that holds teams together. With their diverse skillset, they ensure products are executed properly and delivered on time.
Product managers (very similar to project managers) often manage multiple teams, ranging from marketing to product testing. Not unlike a film director, they ensure the product’s vision isn’t lost in the shuffle. Too many cooks can spoil the broth, after all.
We’re going to take a look at what a solid product manager is capable of. Not only does the product manager need to be clear with you, you need to be upfront with them on what the product needs to succeed.
“Once potential candidates are found, considering the much smaller talent pool, getting them interested in such roles and companies comes next. Along with the brand of the company, an experienced leadership team and salary, it’s important to be clear on the scale that the role offers.”
An Independent Streak To Connect Teams Together
Due to the amount of responsibility on their shoulders, product managers need to have a strong sense of independence to get the job done.
Sometimes team members don’t get along. There will be times where people are miscommunicating and slowing down the project’s development. Self-motivation means having a powerful sense of self that can weather all these uncertainties consistently.
This consistency is reflected in the active planning stage, where resources and research are gathered. Successful product launches are always tied together by good planning, says Joseph Heagney of Fundamentals Of Project Management. The planning stage includes wiggle room for surprises, which more inexperienced product managers often overlook.
Related: How Technology Impacts Healthcare
Proactive Communication That Spots Problems Early
Although product managers need to be highly independent, that doesn’t mean soft skills fall to the wayside. Proactive and empathetic communication is vital to keep small problems from spiraling out of control.
Too many definitions of product management fail to stress the importance of working with people. This is a crucial oversight that can lead hiring managers over-prioritizing hard skills and neglecting soft skills.
Soft skills look like:
- Being empathetic to tired or frustrated team members
- Communicating concerns promptly and clearly
- Keeping active records of grievances, missed deadlines, and constructive criticism
- Regularly checking in with team members to make sure everyone’s on the same page
- Asking the right questions at the right time
Failing to implement proactive communication can inspire feelings of ill will among team members. It can even lead to burnout, affecting a product’s ability to be released on time.
Powerful Research Skills To Understand The Core Market
You can’t make a strong product unless you understand what the market wants. This definition includes (but isn’t limited to) quality, price, and accessibility.
This research process is the foundation of any successful product: consider it the proverbial compass to the project’s ship. It defines the scope, narrows down the budget, and gets all the necessary workers lined up and ready. Coordinating with stakeholders is one of the most vital parts of the product development process, says Samuel A. Fricker from Software Product Management.
Like anyone else making an expensive investment, stakeholders want to know their money will pay off. The ideal product manager will love the research stage, taking it as the prime opportunity to get every last puzzle piece in place.
“There are a few practical ways to find out which ways the winds are blowing. Societal attitudes, changes in the environment, and an increasingly globalized world are major influences on which startups are going to lead the pack. Instead of throwing whatever at the wall and seeing what sticks, these startups are highly motivated and have a strong understanding of the demands of their niche.”
Related: Today’s Role of AI in Healthcare
Adaptability To Meet All Challenges Head-On
What happens when a worker suddenly quits in the middle of the project? How about when several workers fall ill and need a few days’ leave? A good product manager isn’t afraid to meet challenges head-on.
Common challenges faced by product managers include:
- Miscommunication issues
- Missed deadlines
- Dissatisfied stakeholders
- Roadblocks during the product testing phase
“How do they find those innovative companies of the new way post-COVID? They find where those deals are through relationships. Building and maintaining relationships with executives and keeping the executive search pipeline full to target people in their funding pipeline category. These relationships will give entry way into innovation and inclusion.”
Empathy To Understand Where Customers Are Coming From
This quality ties in closely with research skills. Customers seek out a product or service because they have a problem: the product manager needs to understand these problems intrinsically.
Customers today aren’t shy about voicing their opinions. Social monitoring is a popular term used to refer to the active study of customer commentary on sites like Twitter or Facebook. Product managers not only need to study the competition, but what customers want or don’t want.
Concept development and testing is paramount to connecting with customers, states GNP Planning. This is where ideas either flourish or wither into obscurity. The ideal product manager is skilled at asking the right questions at the right time, encouraging honesty from testers so the product can reach its full potential.
A product manager hovers between a specialist and a jack-of-all-trades. They’re a highly flexible individual that is nonetheless grounded by a consistent vision.
When seeking out a product manager, you need to ensure they have the following skills:
- An independent and confident attitude
- Proactive communication skills
- An ability to conduct thorough research
- An adaptable perspective
- An empathetic personality