Article written by Maureen Ogwu
There are product managers and there are those who stand out amongst the many. There are currently over 1.2 million product managers on LinkedIn alone; and with more probably not registered on the platform, the numbers are higher.
As long as a company has a product, it requires a product manager. However, it goes beyond having a full resume to being not just a good product manager, but a great one. With many startups being birthed ever so often and innovations in technology, there is a constant need for people to fill this role.
A great product manager must possess a litany of skills- both hard and soft, to stand out.
So per adventure you are a CEO of a startup or a recruiter or really just trying to become a great product manager, here are 7 things that from my experience in product management, can help you distinguish a great product manager from a basic one.
1. Good Research skills
Product discovery is a vital part of the product development cycle and the product manager is a key player in the system. No good product can be built without research. The ability to properly conduct research/ customer interviews to understand the target customer, the customer’s pain points, the demand for the product, and the competitive landscape is a must-have for a product manager.
2. Strategic/Critical Thinking skills
Product managers need to exercise critical thinking at every stage of product development. A product manager is often the go-to person for questions or product feedback.
They are expected to remain objective and assess the product on behalf of the potential end user and the overall business objectives. This often requires market research and integrating customer feedback into the product vision and roadmap.
A product manager is a mini-CEO of sorts. He needs to understand the current product strategy and how it aligns with the overall company strategy. He needs to know the product vision, how it will generate customer value, and what is the differentiating advantage over its competitors. Product managers are problem solvers and must be quick in making customer and product-centric decisions.
3. Emotional Intelligence
A good product manager may know the dos and don’ts of a customer interview, but the best product manager has the ability to empathize with customers in that interview, is tuned in to their body language and emotions, and can aptly identify and understand the pain points that the product or feature will address.
A product manager who possesses a high EQ has strong relationships within their organization and a keen sense of how to navigate both internal and external hurdles to ship a great product.
4. Collaborative leader
Building a product is a collaborative process and it takes a product manager with a collaborative nature to pull it off. Product requirements come from various cross-functional groups and customers and they all are considered important by those contributing to them. In such an environment, a product manager cannot be dictatorial. He/She needs to clearly communicate decisions, e.g. why a particular feature was chosen over another one for the current release. At the same time, confidence, assertiveness, and charisma are necessary.
5. Analytical skills
Product managers need to conduct data analysis to make educated product decisions. Once market research has been completed, the product manager needs to extract insights from the data in order to inform the entire product roadmap. Can the product manager identify customer needs, and use their analytical skills to ensure the product is solving those pain points?
This should be one of the strong points of a great product manager.
Product managers must be able to execute everything planned in the product development cycle. They need to get things done. In order for a product to be shipped there are hundreds of things to get done and a product manager should be able to get down and dirty to get them done. A product manager needs to do anything needed to make the product a success.
7. Technical skills
Lastly and one of the most important things to look for in a great product manager is technical skills.
Product managers would always benefit from a good knowledge of basic technical skills — such as design, coding languages, and even sales/marketing. A good product manager is almost a “know it all”.
At the end of the day, product managers need to make things happen. Getting great results is the goal.
About the writer:
Maureen Ogwu is currently a technical sourcing specialist with Meta, one of the largest tech companies in the world. Previously, she worked with GlobalCharge ltd as both Product Manager and Digital Marketing expert leading the engineering and marketing teams. Prior to that, she served as a Product Marketing trainer and mentor with Utiva. She has also served as a Paid Marketing Specialist at Digital Marketing Skill Institute, an EdTech Company. She has been recognised for her extensive experience leading digital transformation initiatives and managing the development of highly innovative tech product marketing. She holds an MBA degree from the University of East London.