6 major skills required for product managers
Effective product managers lead cross-functional teams to create the product customers love. To be like that, product managers must possess several skills. There are six major skills, I believe, required for product managers, not only professional knowledges about engineering, web design, business etc.
Product managers should point out the direction in which the product should go and take the first step. Many things are done through new ideas e.g. creating a business model, proposing new value by combining existing functions, and how to communicate well with stakeholders. In order to come up with new ideas, it is important to always be highly sensitive to any information and keep thinking, which will enhance your ability to come up with ideas to further evolve the product.
Product managers are also required to have planning skills for their new ideas. It is necessary to prioritize the ideas according to the larger value they can provide to users. The planning skills here does not mean creating Gantt charts or milestones until the release of the product. These are skills required for project managers, not product managers. The planning skills required for product managers are creating a medium-term roadmap, planning metrics to track, etc. to steadily move the product toward success.
Getting things done
Product managers should be responsible for basically everything about the product from the product mission to the product specification. The product is specifically defined from not knowing who wants what. It is not easy for sure, but being a person of action for the product is essential. In other words, GRIT, that stands for Guts, Resilience, Initiative, Tenacity, is a key ingredient for success.
Everything related to products is coming from hypotheses. A product manager’s job is to repeatedly make new hypotheses and verify them. Product managers need to understand how important a hypothesis is and taking small risks and running hypothesis-test cycles quickly and repeatedly is the only way to build a great product. During the cycles, product managers need to think logically about what a hypothesis and a verified fact are and track many metrics statistically to verify hypotheses.
The skill to estimate and deal with product risks is also required. No matter how attractive the product is, if it is against the law, unethical, or has vulnerabilities, it will be difficult to grow it. On the other hand, if you only worry about the risks, it will also be impossible to run hypothesis-test cycles quickly. It is necessary to understand how much risk is involved in each decision in order to manage the risks appropriately according to the product life cycle.
No matter how good you are as a product manager, you cannot create a product by yourself. Product managers do not manage people generally, but the skill, including soft skills and hard skills, to organize stakeholders and lead the product team is also essential for product managers. Soft skills are communication to lead the product team, understanding of psychological safety to keep the product team high performance, negotiation with stakeholders not to compromise, etc. Hard skills are understanding of software development and operation processes to communicate with engineers efficiently, social media advertising to collaborate with marketers effectively, etc.