In every career, there are secrets that no one will ever tell you. Product Management is no different; there are hidden skillsets that you have to grasp once you are in the system. These might appear soft but by the end of the day, they complete the entire product management circle.
Learning the ropes around UX, Tech, conducting user interviews and business are part of your learning process and it does not stop there. To become a better product manager, you have to dig deeper and surpass the norm of what atypical PM does. The demand for PMs is on the rise and to Julia Blazer, formerly of HuffPost and Washington Post;
“There’s real user service there that doesn’t run into the risk of filter bubbles that I don’t think we as an industry are nailing yet.”
To bring you up to speed as a Product Manager, you have to combine technical, design and business skills and keep updating them. You need to go beyond what you read from books and online to up your game and here are 7 Product Management secret skills no one will teach you.
1. No Dull Moment for a Product Manager
Product management is more than just building successful products and building relationships with the best minds in the industry. You have to go it alone and learn from the constant mistakes you make. Happiness should be the driving force and you should never allow a dull moment to stand between you and your product.
Every moment should be showtime; part of the job to interact with a whole lot of stakeholders with different views and needs. These might put you down and that can affect the end product. You cannot to be sad; instead chose to inspire and know how to handle each individual.
2. Your Product is not Your Life
Any product that you put your hands on will face a lot of opposition. You know at the back of your mind that it is up to you to make it a success but leave room for a backlash. If the project fails, you do not have to follow it to its death bed. Have the right passion around the product and work towards its success; it is all about unbiased attention.
Limit the level of attachment to the product; it is not a matter of life and death. Accept criticism; after all, the product is for the consumer. Your job is to work on it and make it a success. Dethatch your emotions from the product and live to die another day.
Look at the product as a medium to solve the consumer problem. It is all about the market response that as a PM cannot control. Success in the market requires continuous improvement; instant hits die before the hit the market. Focus on the product and accept criticism as part of the market feedback.
3. No Instant Gratification for Product Managers
Just like tedious product visibility through the sales team, a Product Managers’ day ends in suspense with no signs of gratification on the horizon. Just like a sales call, a product response might take days, weeks or months. One needs strong fingers to keep crossed for longer.
Your product is a contract as opposed to a done deal. It has to go through all the processes and the journey can turn out longer than anticipated. By the end of the project, a lot of improvements and tweaks will come along for the consumer to give it thumbs up.
It is your job to optimize your product and make to complete the cycle. If you are looking for an immediate breakthrough, this might turn out to be the wrong career for you. There is no perfect product, once it hits the market, a continuous optimization process commences.
4. Being Truthful is a Virtue
It is the responsibility of every Product manager to help solve consumer problems. You have to be a notch higher and come up with better solutions. Product research and competitor intelligence are part of your second names. Seek to identify the problem and have a clear cut route to its solution.
Your judgment should be truthful before implementation. Document the process and at the end of it, all do thorough impact analysis. However, it is advisable not to be too much attached to your solution; seek a second opinion from the prospective user and other stakeholders.
Seek to know why prospects feel your product will fail and do not ask them why they think it will work. This way, you will be able to capture small details that will solve the user problem. A select group of user prospects is good enough to give you the anticipated market response.
5. Avoiding the “Ownership” Misconception
As the product manager, you know you have done your part and you do not have to shout about it. No consumer out there wants to know you have done your bit. Whatever skills you use are up to you, no one cares whether it is a hit or a miss; all they want is their problems solved.
As much as you are the architect of the entire project, you cannot distance yourself from the entire process. You are part of the process and you have to work at it until the desired results are achieved however long it takes.
6. The Product is Never Yours
One mistake Projects managers make is building products for themselves. You put all pieces into place and let it go solve the consumer problems. You have your problems; no doubt about it but the consumer comes first. After all, your problem is not widespread and you might get a rude shock once the product is rejected t the marketplace.
If you are facing a specific problem, do research and establish that the larger population is facing the same problem and begin from there. Some personal problems are not widespread and they might be deceiving which is a good recipe for a product hitting a dead end.
7. Never make Merry on Product Launch Day
This might come as a surprise but never celebrate a product launch, just hold your breath instead. This is like your wedding day; you never know what your spouse turns into in a week, month or years to come. Marriages can be rocky and you can compare them with a new product entry into the market.
Product launch is tense moments; it is the beginning of a journey that you have been packing for. Here is where serious work starts. This might be timeless but once the products hit the shelves and consumers are picking it, you can create time to shout cheers.