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Last updated on 9/10/20

Reflect on whether you have the characteristics of an effective product manager

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Reflect on the list of personality traits below and think about how they relate to you. If you are interviewed for a product-related position, your interviewer will certainly be looking for these qualities in you. Your teams and co-workers will also appreciate working with people who can demonstrate these characteristics.

Passionate

1. Passionate
Being passionate about building a great product is an excellent start 

Being a product manager is a challenging job. There is a challenging workload, late nights, and big decisions to make. Some projects go according to plan and some that do not.

The only way that product managers can be effective is if they are hugely passionate about products. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you love discovering new websites and do you love to install and play the latest mobile apps? Do you genuinely admire a good product when you see one?

The product manager must be able to confidently explain and communicate the product vision with enough enthusiasm and conviction to bring the rest of the team and the organization on board. 

The product manager must inspire the team. If the whole team can get a sense of the vision of the product and truly believe in that vision, then the organization has a great advantage of having an aligned team that has clarity on what their desired outcome is.

Empathetic

You need empathy for what customers feel and think in order to build products they love
Empathy is understanding what customers feel and think 

Passion about customers and their problems (and jobs to be done) are also vital. Product managers need to be hugely empathic: this means understanding what users feel and are motivated by, what they care about, and what makes their lives better. Empathy goes beyond simply asking people questions and listening to their responses. It means getting down to the level of user motivation. Why are people behaving in a certain way? What are their fears or dislikes? 🤔

Persuasive

Your ability to influence others to follow your plan depends on your ability to persuade
Your ability to influence others to follow your plan depends on your ability to persuade

As we have mentioned already, product managers have the responsibility of defining the product vision and charting a roadmap. They have to work with the technical teams to find approaches to solve problems that address the market opportunity in a feasible way. It has to be possible to actually build the proposed solution with the technical team in the proposed time frame.

Note that the people in the tech team do not report directly to the product manager.

The engineers typically report to an Engineering Manager, the designers typically report to a Design Manager, and the testers report to the Quality Assurance Manager etc. The product manager cannot simply order the team what to do. Instead, product managers have to persuade the tech team to agree to work on what they are proposing.

The team's input is hugely valuable to product managers, and if the product manager cannot convince the team that the proposed strategy is desirable and optimal, then the plan is probably not so great. At this point, it is worth evaluating if more product research is required. There will be times when product managers hit an impasse and some senior people in the organization may have to break the deadlock, but these times are probably relatively rare.

Curious

Curiosity leads to asking questions and learning about problems
Curiosity leads to asking questions and learning about problems

Because product managers have so much to learn, having a high level of curiosity is a huge benefit. Product managers have to know customers and their jobs-to-be-done. They must know the competition. They must know the product intimately. In large companies, they must also know how other products in the organization work. Domain-level knowledge is often required for effective decision-making. For example, accounting knowledge is a prerequisite to building accounting software.

Product ideas often come from asking questions and learning about the customer and their challenges. The ability to constantly ask questions and learn is essential.

Effective

Being effective means achieving objectives with limited time
Being effective = achieving objectives with limited time

Being a product manager is a highly varied, multi-faceted role that is very demanding of your time. The best product managers make no excuses, even though there are many possible meetings to attend and many tasks on their to-do list.

Product managers should try to take at least 1-2 hours free a day for just thinking time. With that in mind, they need to be able to work fast and to prioritize the truly important things over the urgent things.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement