5 Best Tips for Aspiring Product Managers
Product management is one of the most demanding jobs in tech. Crushed between technical development and market demands along with management pressure, a product manager is solely responsible for a company’s growth and success via its products.
A product manager must do everything needed to keep a product profitable and relevant to the market. And they must ensure that everyone associated with marketing and product development pursues this goal. Thus, the job is not easy to manage sometimes.
So, if you are an aspiring product manager or just started with zero experience, you must carefully build your way up. Even if you understand the fundamentals of product management, it will take time to get familiar with the complexities of every new product or organization.
While you may not be the team manager per se, you will be in charge of all the critical elements that commonly lead to a team’s success and must own that responsibility. And to help you with that, here are the five tips to ensure success every time.
5 Best Tips for Aspiring Product Managers
Get Familiar with Customers
When you are responsible for building the best solutions for customers, developing empathy for them and knowing them is crucial. Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes made by product managers is that they focus more on seamless product development and management than understanding the goal or target audience.
The easiest way to avoid this mistake is to start by analyzing the customer personas. One way to learn this is to review both complex and common support tickets, and another is to enroll in a product management Bootcamp online. These programs combine interactive technology and real-world lessons with advanced material that helps you at every step of your product management career journey.
However, you can still engage with prospective and current customers differently—for instance, in-app community feedback, empathy sessions, sale/support calls, etc.
So, before you start working on a product, make sure you understand the basics, like the demographic of your users and, in the case of B2B organizations, the firmographics of the companies purchasing the product. In addition, the pain points faced by your customers that your product fails to address and how to make them happier.
Provide Clarity and Vision
When it comes to working with different teams, the product manager is responsible for providing a clear vision. So, if you are an aspiring professional, you must remember that your teams might be busy with their project most of the time; it is your responsibility to constantly look toward the finish line and ensure all the teams arrive there.
Never hesitate to inspire your teams with the result. Update them using roadmaps. Share the outcome of your research. Remind them of the significance of the work and the results of previous launches. All of this is extremely important to keep everyone aligned and on the path to success.
Most importantly, you must define success before you aspire to make your product successful. Moreover, eliminate risks, avoid making concessions that do not help in product improvement, keep your teams on point and give a clear vision of where everyone stands.
If you want your product to succeed, one of the most important things you can do is to provide your team with high-quality product development tools. These tools assist product managers in planning, tracking and launching new products or features and can help streamline communication between multiple teams, prioritize tasks, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Be a Leader and Think Strategically
A product manager works across various business functions and is the voice of the customer. It’s their job to balance out the needs of different areas in the organization and influence them to fulfill customer needs.
Remember that you are accountable for product development and management, so you must act like a leader. You must paint the future and effectively negotiate through financial, technical, and political hurdles while representing customers’ needs.
In addition, another critical attribute of a good product manager is to foresee or think beyond a period of 6 to 12 months. You cannot develop a product successfully by just keeping up with current trends. However, you must keep an eye on current and emerging technologies. In addition, you must research competitors and be able to foresee and communicate the product’s future direction.
After all, strategic product management is not just about executing projects for the sake of continuity of operations, but it involves selecting, prioritizing, and properly channeling the resources to your project quite carefully. That is the only to you can contribute to the company’s success while increasing revenues.
Success is all about outcomes. Therefore, launching a product exactly how you conceived it could still be a complete failure. One way to avoid it is to be aware of all of your assumptions and run thorough user tests to eradicate the riskiest of them.
You don’t need to run expensive and extensive user testing as you can use some lean validation techniques. For instance, websites like respondent.io allow you to find people for remote interviews quite easily if you can’t meet people in person.
Similarly, you can run a simple landing page test or A/B testing to get more quantitative regarding your product. All these techniques help you collect valuable feedback on your product designs and better understand your customers and the problems your product is trying to solve.
Of all the skills you need to be a successful product manager, integrity is the one you can’t go without. If you fail to lead with integrity, all your other professional traits are in vain. Moreover, it is a skill you do not have to ‘learn.’
Product managers’ actions set a particular mode of operation for their team instead of words. A successful product manager demonstrates ethical practices and commitment. Leading with integrity represents dedication, honesty, a set of values, and consistency in dealing with teammates.
When you lead with integrity, you don’t hide facts regardless of the consequences; you do not manipulate people or hide project status or product information.
On the other hand, you respect commitments and deliver results as promised, take responsibility for the results, confront challenges directly, acknowledge the deserving ones regardless of the circumstances, and support those in need. Nevertheless, leadership inspired by self-interest never serves the well-being of a team.
As we know, product management is one of the most coveted and competitive career paths. So, to excel in your career, capitalize on the expert tips above. Moreover, remember you are hired for a reason.
So, if you are willing to learn, gain a deeper understanding of your customers, lead your team with integrity, avoid assumptions, think strategically and be clear in your vision. Once you master these skills, you can start to create your own plan and set the direction for your product. So, go boldly and take on your new and exciting role with confidence. Good luck!