Product managers these days are perhaps the most sought-after workers in the IT industry. Among those working in the tech industry, they have the highest average salaries, and they’ve even beaten out software developers in this regard. What’s more, an increasing number of CEOs and higher echelon positions are coming from a product management background.
It’s true that part of the reason for the demand for product managers is high, and there are too few product managers out there to meet the demand. But that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. It’s still a competitive world out there, and you need to make sure you have the skills that’ll make you stand out.
The first wave of product managers came from those with a tech background, but these days it’s certainly not an absolute necessity. However, it will help your work tremendously if you’re knowledgeable about the technology you use. It helps you set realistic expectations and schedules when you’re fully aware of what things an API or a client-server is. You don’t have to be an engineer. You just have to know the language and understand the concepts. It’s like having a car. You may not know how to build or fix an engine, but at the very least you ought to know if something’s wrong with it.
Know Something about Everything
More specifically, you should know the basics of design, engineering, marketing, and sales. That’s because all these aspects will be part of your job.
You can read about these aspects, but the best way to learn is to be part of these teams for at least a little while. The best product managers are those who have tried a little bit of everything. These experiences help them to understand the roles of each department and how they can work together more seamlessly. In addition, your communications with the experts in these fields will be clearer. At least you can understand what they’re saying, and you know where they’re coming from when they have their own priorities.
We’ve harped on how your knowledge of tech and other departments help with your communication because it’s such a large part of your job. As a product manager, you will have to communicate with various levels and departments.
This means you need to be a skilled presenter of ideas so that everyone’s on the same page. You may have to be a good diplomat who can resolve conflicts between different departments and people with opposite opinions. Part of being a good communicator is also knowing when and how to listen so that other people can present their ideas to you.
You should be able to say exactly how your new product can fit into a rapidly evolving world. Take note of modern visionaries like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Steve Jobs as a great visionary too. This may seem like something inborn, but it’s a talent that you can develop by keeping current on industry trends and what the innovators of today are doing that will change the future.
Develop these skills, and you may set yourself up as among the best of product managers. Sure, your skills are much in demand now. But improving your value makes you more valuable in the long run.