Product management is a role that consists of diverse responsibilities—and therefore requires diverse strengths. Methodical organization, creative thinking, and vision are just a few assets necessary in order to be an effective PM.
This variety is what attracts so many to the field in the first place, and makes their work endlessly interesting and challenging. But it takes a certain type of personality to thrive in this capacity. If you’re considering a foray into this field, take a look at some of the qualities that project managers share to see if they resonate with you.
1. Diplomatic and Diverse
PMs must work across all organization levels and departments. Because some branches are notorious for butting heads instead of playing nicely (a product manager will witness at least one Engineering v. Business Development Deathmatch), knowing how to make peace and find solutions that keep everyone happy is vital.
In their 2013 State of Product Management and Marketing Survey, Pragmatic Marketing found that 61% of the PMs polled identified with this description: “A master generalist [that] can talk to engineers, users, executives, finance, marketing, sales, and other groups without tripping.” Product managers don’t trip. They can communicate effectively across organizational boundaries.
2. Analytical and Curious
One of the most essential components of product management is an ability to connect the dots. PMs look at each part of a product lifecycle in order to determine where functionality can be optimized, or pinpoint where a process is breaking down.
64% of the Pragmatic respondents self-identified as “Curious,” which was defined as the following: “Needs to understand ‘why’ things occur. Always driving to the core of the issue and trying to understand how choices are made and how people are motivated.”
3. Tech Savvy
Almost all of the survey respondents (93%) consider themselves “somewhat or very technical.” This isn’t surprising, considering that a majority of the products or services being developed will have some technical bent (whether it’s the building of the software itself or dictating the capabilities of a user dashboard). Because their hands are in almost every piece of the pie, including the technical, this trait can be critical for a PM.
4. Solution Oriented
Once they’ve determined the issues at play, Product Managers must act to find solutions. They’re the type of people that lie awake at night, wondering how to tackle problems and refine results. Google describes their ideal Product Manager as one who has “a bias for action and can break down complex problems into steps that drive[s] product development.”
Although there are a few universal qualities intrinsic to effective product management, by no means is there a single hard and fast personality type cut out for this role. The work benefits from a variety of temperaments, from the uber-structured perfectionist to the harmony-loving visionary. What they do all have in common is a passion for innovation—and love of whiteboards (they really, really love whiteboards).
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