What Is a Product Manager and What Do They Do?
Product management is tough to beat if you’re on the hunt for an in-demand, fast-growing job market. The average product manager in the United States makes an annual salary in the six figures. The field is demanding but also provides the opportunity for a fulfilling and meaningful career.
That said, you must know what you’re getting into when becoming a product manager. It’s essential to understand the roles and responsibilities of product management. Successful leaders know all about prioritizing the needs of stakeholders, learning the product development lifecycle, setting and accomplishing business goals, and more.
Below, Poised explains the product manager role in more detail.
What Is a Product Manager?
Similar to project managers, the typical product manager’s responsibilities are vast. Your primary role will be to establish the strategy and roadmap of a product or product line. You’ll also need to define product features and learn to predict a product’s lifecycle.
Other common responsibilities include profit and loss (P&L), forecasting, and product marketing. Your product manager job will require you to research and analyze the market and competitive conditions, which will help you develop a product vision that distinguishes your brand from competitors and provides unique value aligned with your customers' needs and demands.
Many product managers thrive in the creative area of product development. Product development is intense but invigorating. It gives you a sense of responsibility for your product, which can motivate and inspire you to create with conviction. That can lead to deep satisfaction and consistent engagement in your role as a product manager.
What Does a Product Manager Do?
As a product manager, you will lead a cross-functional team to create and improve your product strategy and development process, ultimately guiding your team to success. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the product manager role in an organization.
Tech-driven companies and startups, especially, can’t survive without a top-notch product manager to lead their development team. You must gain the skills and deep understanding necessary to lead and make wise strategic decisions.
You’ll also need exceptional interpersonal skills to be a great product manager since you’ll be the point of contact for your company’s product teams.
Additionally, you’ll be responsible for the user experience, handling customer feedback, and directing customer support, marketing, and sales teams connected. Product management might be the perfect fit if you love to bring people together, collaborate on creations, and solve problems.
Identify Customer Needs
Product managers must constantly research the market and connect with customers to gauge their current needs. The primary purpose of creating a product is to improve your customers' lives in a meaningful way. And you can only do that if you know what they need.
Direct a Team of Creatives
Creatives get a bad rap for being unreliable and spacey, but for the most part, that’s a myth. People in creative jobs simply think differently because they’re focused on product design and developing new features and prototypes, which requires thinking outside the box and stepping out of their comfort zones.
Many product managers discover that working alongside creative people is invigorating and inspiring. That said, you must remember that your job is to direct your team members and provide a structure everyone can follow.
Create Strategies for Product Rollouts
Every decision your team makes about a product must be rooted in strategy, even in the earliest stages. The last thing you want to do is impulsively dive into decision-making. This applies to every decision up until a product rollout, including user research, software development, pricing, and more.
Without an effective roadmap in place, you can face more challenges releasing a product than you did in the brainstorming and creating phases. Lean on strategy at every step.
What Does the Role of a Product Manager Require?
So, what specific skills do you need to be a successful product manager?
Here are some of the most important product manager skills:
Remember, you’ll be working with a diverse product design and engineering team, meaning you must be flexible and able to facilitate team work with many different personalities, work styles, and skill sets at play. Remaining adaptable will go a long way toward building a fruitful career.
Every business profession requires problem-solving in some shape or form. Product management involves more problem-solving than many other fields, and it must become second nature if you are going to thrive.
You’ll need problem-solving skills at every point in your career path, particularly when it comes to meeting user needs and ironing out kinks in your product roadmap.
You’re ultimately responsible for keeping your product teams on track and meeting product requirements on time. At the end of the day, you simply cannot do that if you can’t manage your time effectively.
Hold yourself accountable, use the right tools, and maximize every minute. This will allow you to devote the necessary time to guide your team members while also setting a good example.
No one likes conflict, but successful product managers know how to navigate it. A typical product manager job description will include something like “adept at resolving problems between team members.”
When you develop the skill of conflict resolution, you’ll realize that conflict can be used to improve your team dynamics, create better products, and move your organization in the right direction. Successful conflict resolution is grounded in empathy, supportive body language, and active listening.
As with many other professions, being an effective product manager requires you to be an excellent communicator. In a way, the entire product manager job revolves around communication because you’re managing teams of individuals with diverse experiences, skill sets, and personalities.
Chances are you’ll have your fair share of meetings in-person or online. You must know how to deliver an impactful presentation for new product ideas, product releases, strategy changes, employee orientation, regular check-ins, and more.
If you’re uncomfortable with your current communication skills, you can enhance your video calls with the Poised communication coach. Our software can guide you through leadership challenges in real-time and track your long-term trends to help you improve in many different areas over time.
You can boost your confidence, empathy, clarity, conciseness, body language, and other metrics on the sly because your audience won’t know you’re using the communication coach.
Finally, product managers are leaders. Embrace your leadership role and seek to grow each day. Be approachable, willing to share your expertise with others, and authoritative when necessary. Most importantly, lead by example and respect everyone around you.
How Poised Can Make You a Better Product Manager
Being a product manager can be as challenging as it is thrilling. The tips above will help you prepare for a lucrative and fulfilling product manager career. But keep looking for other ways to position yourself for success.
And don’t forget to check out the Poised coach for boosting your communication skills for virtual meetings. You can even choose a personalized plan that speaks to your specific needs.