Product Managers (PM) are often referred to as the ‘CEO of Product’ because they are the brain behind a product’s success. However, Martin Eriksson, writer and entrepreneur, believes otherwise. He believes that many product managers do not have direct authority over the majority of functions that lead to a product’s success – from design to marketing, sales to logistics. Therefore, terming them ‘CEO of Product’ is redundant. However, they are an inevitable part of an organization.
Product managers act as the catalyst between the consumer and the company. They conduct discussions and interviews to gauge the needs and wants of the consumers and incorporate them into the company’s product. They fill the gap between a company’s products and customers’ wants. That is why Amazon encourages their product managers to write press releases of their features. The American multi-national company does it to involve the customer side of the story in their products, which gives them a competitive edge over others.
This leaves us with the question – Are all product managers storytellers? Yes. All product managers are storytellers; they weave engaging stories based on the customer interview, and the version of the story is used by other departments like UX, Design, Marketing to develop product communication. It increases the sales and profits of a company and promotes customer loyalty and satisfaction. Besides storytelling skills, product managers should have various other skills.
How to Become a Product Manager?
1. Basic Skills
There are many core competencies every product manager must have. While many are developed during product management courses, others are developed on-job. We have curated a few of them for you:
● Technical proficiency
Product Managers need to be aware of all the business functions undertaken while developing a product- from research to marketing. They should know about functions like conducting A/B tests, software development methodologies, product analytics, and others for the smooth functioning of the organization.
● Communication skills
The main role & responsibility of a product manager is to communicate with the customers to gauge their needs and wants. Therefore, every product manager must have good communication skills and the ability to read customers’ gestures, and other semantics.
● Business administration skills
Product managers must be disciplined and know how to lead a team efficiently and effectively. This skill is the baseline for every product manager, and the best of managers hone this skill over the years.
Performing market assessment, conducting customer interviews, and defining success metrics are other basic skills product managers should possess.
2. Emotional Intelligence
“The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically,” that is how Oxford Dictionary defines Emotional Intelligence. As product managers regularly conduct customer interviews to understand their needs and wants, they need to be empathetic towards their customers to understand their emotions and translate that into the product. Moreover, to draw inferences from their non-verbal expressions like body language, posture, etc. Here are some traits of emotional intelligence that relate to the role of a product manager:
● Relationship management
All good product managers form an authentic and trustworthy connection with both internal (employees) and external (customers) sources to inspire and make people reach their full potential. In addition, they motivate and support each other to reach the goal.
A good product manager should be self-aware about their actions and the implications it causes. Lack of self-awareness can damage relationships and also lead to lack of confidence. Therefore, self-belief and self-awareness will help you outshine in your organization and motivate others to do so.
Becoming a good product manager needs great self-management. As you will always be on a tight schedule, you’ll have to devise self-management strategies to deliver the desired results at the right time.
● Finding right company
You cannot become a good product manager without well-developed skills and high EQ. You need the right company to showcase your skills. So, finding a company that fits your abilities is an important task.
Do You Need a Degree to Become a Product Manager?
You need a formal education degree or a relevant certificate for getting a job in product management. So, after completing your graduation, you can undertake a certification course in product management to prepare yourself for the job. Such certificate courses help you gain hands-on experience and expertise to be industry-ready and add value to a company besides helping you build skills that can boost your efficiency and productivity at work.
Why Become a Product Manager?
If you are a leader
If you are someone who likes to take things into their hands, then the role of a product manager is best suited for you. A product manager is like a Ringleader who conducts interviews, formulates strategies besides performing other tasks to develop a product that meets the expectations of the customers and businesses.
If you are a curious observer
Some people love to keenly observe everything around them. If you are someone who is good at reading semantics, then product manager is an ideal job role for you. Here you interact with the customers, keenly observe them, make inferences from the discussions and implement them into the product design and promotion.
If you are a problem solver
You will become a good product manager if you are a doer, problem-solver, and dreamer because product management is about solving business problems. It is also about understanding the problems customers face and finding solutions to those problems.
If you are flexible
Product Management is a business function that focuses on the product and its customers throughout a product’s lifecycle. It devises strategies to ensure that the products meet the needs of the customers. Therefore, as the functions, roles and responsibilities of a product manager change rapidly, it is advisable to take up this role only if you are not afraid of the change.
If you are career-oriented
Product Management professionals get ample of lucrative employment opportunities. So, if you are career-oriented, then the role of a product manager is your best fit. In this domain, there is a wide scope of growth, and there is an ever-increasing demand for product managers.
Job Roles of a Product Manager
Product management professionals are an inevitable part of the organization, therefore, they are needed across various levels of the organization. Here are some popular job roles in the field of product management:
- Product Manager
- Associate Product Manager
- Group Product Manager
- Product Owner
- Director of Product Management
- Vice President of Product Management
- Chief Product Officer
Now that you are well aware of the roles and responsibilities of a product manager, it’ll be easier for you to make a decision. If you are a graduate, and want to learn product manager skills, consider taking up an online course that will prepare you for the job. Emeritus offers various short-term and executive courses in product management such as Product Management by ISB Executive Education, Innovation of Products and Services: MIT’s Approach to Design Thinking by MIT Management Executive Education and others. Navigate to the ‘Programs’ section on our website to explore more courses in product management.