Is Product Management for me?
Every time we talk about career choices, product management comes up as one of the most talked-about professions.
As of today, around 14,900,000 individuals have listed their title as ‘Product Manager’ on LinkedIn. It is pretty clear that the popularity of this career path is on an upswing.
Despite the popularity, product management is often misunderstood by many PM aspirants.
Hence, the question arises: “Is product management for me?”
Before we proceed to answer this question, you must have a clear idea about what exactly product management is.
So here goes a brief answer.
What is Product Management?
Product management is a process involving the production or improvement of an existing product on the basis of feedback from customers or industry experts.
In other words, we can also call it an organizational function that guides every aspect of the product lifecycle. From product planning to development, setting up the price to targeting the customers.
Product management coincides with different aspects or products in a single frame. Let’s say, it unites UX, technology and business in one place.
Of course this might sound too much. So there must be another question popping in your mind right now: Is product management hard?
Is Product Management a hard job?
Yes, but it depends largely on your skills.
Because Product manager is a multi-dimensional role. It demands a bit of product marketing knowledge, tech know-how, people management skills, a very strong product sense, and empathy. Moreover, you must always be ready with a backup plan and ready to outperform the competition in any circumstance.
Further, there are a lot of unknowns in product management and you never know which one is right for you.
What are the main responsibilities of a Product Manager?
Now, the responsibilities of a product manager largely depends on the size of the organization. It’s the diverse nature of the product manager that makes it one of the most coveted job profiles.
For example, a product manager from a large organization will have a team of specialists, researchers, designers, coders and analysts to assist. The responsibilities will also include the aspects such as testing the prototypes, managing day-to-day executions, finding bugs and diagnosing the problems.
In contrast, the product manager from a smaller organization will take up more hands-on work to save costs and work under a given budget.
If we list the common responsibilities of a product manager, here is what they do:
- Conducting Research: The first and foremost job is to research the market, the competitor, and the buyer persona.
- Creating Communication: One of the key roles of the PMs is creating effective and clear communication with different departments and with the stakeholders after creating a product roadmap.
- Creating Strategy: This includes creating a solid strategy based on the product and mapping its success by creating goals, objectives and product proposal plans.
- Feedback and Analysis: After the product has been released in the market, the next goal of the PM is to collect the necessary inputs from the customers. Further, this also includes collecting negative and positive feedback from the users to improvise products for future versions.
Now that we’ve covered the roles and skills, let’s talk about who product management is for and who it isn’t.
Who should not choose Product Management?
Consider it as a note of myth-buster that people have about the product managers. Because of the wide responsibilities, the PM aspirants have various misconceptions about their job profile.
Before you think of choosing your career as a product manager or applying for the post of product manager, here is what might fail you in the first place:
Thinking yourself as the leader
So, the first thing is to throw out the narcissist in you.
Product management is not about leading and managing the people. Your engineers or designers won’t report to you.
That’s pretty obvious! Because you are not their leader.
Different departments work together to form or develop a product. That doesn’t make you a leader of these departments. Often, these would be the ad-hoc work where these departments would assist you.
Thus, you need to maintain a better relationship with them because you are going to need them through various stages of product development.
In a nutshell, Product management is more of managing the relationships rather than managing the people.
Thinking yourself in influential role
It isn’t as glamorous as it sounds.
Step into someone’s shoes whose decision is going to affect the customer inputs, brand image and capital investments. You might be tempted to take risks at times or play safe. That’s when your decision making is going to be strong.
Expecting better pay and perks
Note that I am not scaring you from taking up this career path, I am just trying to raise the red flags before you start your career as a product manager. Money is the last motivation that you should consider when starting your career. With the changing industry trends and the assigned roles, the pay scale will change as well. As soon as you transition to your role as a product manager, chances are that you would be paid less than even what you were making in your past role. Sorry to burst out your bubble, but product managers have to strive hard before getting a sharp paycheck raise.
Product Managers are only to assign roles and chill!
“With great power comes the great responsibility.”
As you grow in the position, your struggles would grow further. Product managers are not going to design the products on their own, but they are responsible for bringing up all the pieces together. As I suggested, that’s where decision making is crucial. From creating strategies, to effective communication and coordinating with different development teams, the role of a product manager is like a sine wave or a roller coaster. You would gain knowledge and experience but be ready to take up the blame as well. With so much negativity and No’s, my next section will create a balance.
Who Should Become a Product Manager?
Being a product manager takes something that isn’t just deemed for your resume. You need to have abstract skills besides your professional knowledge.
So, one of the major skills that product managers hold is being a core competence. These competencies might be inherited or you will learn them by following a good role model.
- Creating user testing and conducting interviews.
- Generating a revenue model
- Performing market assessment
- Mapping the product history, success and failure.
- Creating a successful road map planning.
- Considering meaningful KPIs for Products
Now, you might grow these skills over time based on your working ecosystem, the power of decision-making and also the responsibilities you are handed over.
As I said, there are more abstract skills to learn to excel as a product manager. A product manager must be able to assess the pain points of the customer and solve these issues in the form of the features.
Besides this, another important skill is relationship management. By forming a bond with the customers, internal and external stakeholders or with different departments, the product management team can successfully negotiate, resolve conflicts and trigger actions in time.
Creating a balance
Being a product manager can be stressful. You have many mouths around you but only an ear to listen. The CEO wants one thing whereas the designers and developers want another. And, the customers have other opinions about these features. This job is obviously not for the faint-hearted. Managing tight deadlines, creating revenue targets, setting the market demands, and being everywhere is obviously not everyone’s cup of tea.
As you pursue a career in product management, you will face new challenges and gain knowledge on a daily basis.
No two days in the life of a product manager are the same. During a stressful situation, it is likely that you will consider giving up.
Remember that the seeds of hard work will bear the sweet fruits of success. Finally, your mindset and vision, combined with some amazing mentors and peers, will make product management a perfect fit for you!
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