If You Do These 5 Things, You’re Probably a Product Manager!
CEO: Hi Nick, I was hoping you could help us hire a product manager?
Me: Sure, why exactly are you looking to hire them?
CEO: Well we’ve seen that as digital businesses grow, a product manager comes in to help.
Me: Right…but what do you need them to do?
CEO: Manage our digital product.
Me: Um…OK. What are the skills and experience you need this person to have?
CEO: I’m not really sure…but we definitely need a product manager.
This was a typical conversation that I would have at least once a week when I began recruiting product managers over 7 years ago. At the time, product management wasn’t very well defined as a skill set. You could find a “product manager” who was doing the role of a marketing manager, a business analyst, project manager or a UX person…the list goes on. What I’m hoping to do is give you a better definition of the key skill set that makes up a product manager.
Over the last decade product management has become more defined and understood across the UK, although some companies (probably larger corporates or traditional businesses) may not have it as an official role and title. This doesn’t mean that all product people do exactly the same job or have the same skills, however there are commonalities. I speak to a lot of people who don’t have a product management title but are actually undertaking the role of a Product Manager without realising it.
So, do you…
1. Talk dev
Product managers generally work very closely with developers so it’s important they have a good technical understanding. This doesn’t mean that a product manager must know how to code, but they need to understand the tech stack and what the capabilities are. They also need to know when they are being bullshitted. Also, a good technical understanding is important to help gain the trust and respect of the development team.
A product manager is the CEO of their products (I’ve heard that so many times, I cringe). However they do not have the ability to fire people or make huge changes to the teams, therefore they need to rely on their ability to work with cross-functional teams and influence them to get what they want done.
3. Look at the data & speaker to customers
A product manager is the voice of their customer. They represent their opinions and understand their problems. Product people are talking to their customers on a regular basis and looking at data where possible, to make sure that they can optimise their products. Consumer facing product people generally have more data and customers to utilise, whereas if you’re in a B2B business, speaking to your customers regularly is key.
4. Bring ideas to the table
A product manager is consistently analysing the market they are competing in, the technology landscape and making sure they are doing gap analysis to stay ahead of the curve. Not only do they keep an eye on the competition but they think out of the box. They come up with new ideas and drive these concepts through to launch.
5. Understand what, why & when
Product people have the success or failure of the product on their shoulders. They need to have the product and company vision clear in their mind to understand what, why and when they should build a certain feature or product. Deciding what to prioritise and what to put to the back of the queue is a key part of the job.
Sound familiar? If you’re currently doing these things in your current role, you’re probably a product manager, even if your title is commercial manager, business analyst or development ninja!
If you would like any further advice or have any questions, feel free to get in touch with the team here at Knowit.
Read more from Nick:Looking for a new role?