Product Management is about People and Trust.
Updated: Jan 25
The importance of soft skills.
The Technical Product Manager
Junior product managers usually focus their learning on the technical aspects of the profession:·
Are my requirements the best?·
How should I conduct competitive analysis?·
How should I price my product?·
Is my writing good enough?·
Product management courses usually focus on the same things. The list of skills a product manager needs to master is endless and requires different knowledge areas such as user experience, technical expertise, business, and more.
Where is your Power
As you grow as a product manager, you start to understand where your power really comes from. Excluding some exceptional cases, as a product manager you do not build the product, test it, market or sell it (even though you may be involved in many of these tasks).
You rely on other people to do all the other things, and in a sense, you orchestrate everything. You are the person that helps focus your team on what needs to be done and when. This means that your power is your team and not yourself.
Trust is Everything
You need to master all product management skills. There is no doubt about that. However, if you don’t know how to approach a developer it does not matter how good your requirements are. If your development team doesn’t trust you, they will do what they think is best and ignore you.
If your customers, your users, your sales or support don’t trust you, you will never be able to gather the insights needed to advance your product.
You don’t have any authority that is not needed to be gained with trust. Your customers, your users, and your whole team need to know that you have their interests in your heart. Otherwise they will not trust you and won’t listen to you.
Communication and Empathy
A rock star developer might not be the best in communicating with other people. He will still be able to do his job. An organization may be able to contain some few divas on the development team because they make a difference.
However, a product manager can’t be like that. A product manager is an enabler. As a product manager you must be able to learn how to communicate efficiently and differently with any member of your team. You need to tune yourself and completely put your ego aside. You may remember I used similar arguments in Don’t Manage your Stakeholders from your Ego.
It’s never about you. It’s always about them. Them may be your team, your sales, your customers, or your users.
When you became product managers probably nobody told you that. Once you master the technical skills, most of your challenges are handling other people and gaining their trust.
If you feel you lack in this area, start working towards these capabilities. Find a coacher, practice, learn some psychology, or anything else you think would help. Work on your soft skills.