Top 10 skillsets required of Product Managers today

7 September 2016 by Mark Fallon

Top 10 skillsets required of Product Managers today


Mark Fallon Marketing, Career Advice, Customer...

Faye Constance, Talent Manager in Alternatives shares her view on this increasingly complex role.


Following on from a great product management event we had here in Alternatives, we wanted to pull together a list of the top 10 skillsets that employers look for in Product Managers today.  As Ireland’s next generation of CEO’s could potentially be drawn from the ranks of Product Managers, expectations of employers are extremely high and these multiple skills will be imperative to the success of any product or business in the future.


  1. Influencing Skills– This is the no1 skill that is at the heart of every product management role.  “The ability to influence others without any direct authority.”


A product manager has a lot of commercial responsibility and acts as a product CEO, although without a CEO’s authority!


The ability to influence and drive engagement across a number of departments within a business (marketing, sales, engineering, finance etc) – is a skilled one. It takes a certain someone who can gain respect from their co-workers and influence their colleagues to prioritise tasks to drive the product to succeed.


  1. Strategic Thinking– Despite what we hear about technical knowledge, domain expertise and obsession about product, in reality most product managers bring in a unique set of strategic skills to the table. These skills complement skills brought by engineers, marketing and project managers. Strategic thinking starts with asking the right questions. It is about understanding the current market, where it is  going, competition, go to market, etc. to define the right product and the roadmap.


  1. Tenacity – This has come up time and time again when speaking to any Product Manager. A good product manager doesn’t fall at the first hurdle but rather kicks through that hurdle to get to the other side! There will always be budget constraints, resource limitations, timelines to meet, and new problems to solve. You need to be prepared to meet new problems head on and work out how to overcome these obstacles. It determines the success or failure of every project.


  1. Commercial Acumen – Product managers have had to change their paradigm from thinking that their role is ‘delivering successful products /projects’ to understanding that their sole purpose is to ‘turn business vision into commercial reality’. This requires every product manager to understand the business and financial objectives from the initial concept and how to deliver on these.


  1. Leadership Skills – A Product Manager needs to Inspire, motivate, negotiate and communicate and be a true leader. Without this skill, the chances of a product reaching the commercial KPIs it needs too, will be slim. A good Product Manager can lead without seniority and naturally demonstrate Integrity, Competence and Calm.


  1. Crisis Management – Every Product Manager worth his salt has learnt the intricacies of Crisis Management. Timelines get pushed back, deadlines get missed, priorities overlap and communications breakdown. Planning, Organisation and strategy is key. The question isn’t “what will go wrong? “ But when and what is the plan in place when that happens.


  1. Execution– Getting things doneis a big part of influencing and whilst strategy and planning goes hand in hand; ultimately, Product Managers can get things done and execute. They get results doing whatever it takes- whether this means delegating and leading or working on something themselves. The important thing is being able to deliver on time and bringing a plan to profit


  1. Analytical Skills– A good Product Manager doesn’t make decisions based on gut or instinct. They make decisions by looking at the data made available to them and deciding based on that data the best course of action. They analyse and seek out the right data before making any commercial decisions and are able to back up any plan with solid data and insights.


  1. Organisation – Spinning a million plates is an image that comes to mind the most when thinking of product managers! Good product managers focus their time in two areas: 1) tasks that are critical to their product success (e.g. licencing approval, engineering reports and arrangements); 2) tasks that have a high impact on their business (closing big deals, updating their PRD, etc.). Without a high level of organisation and prioritisation a product manager can be swamped with endless questions and find themselves firefighting.


  1. User Experience– Last but not least the Product Manager is the voice of the user inside the business and must be passionate about the user experience! The customer must always be central to any decision and at the core of any design or technology decisions.  Product managers need to be out there testing the product, talking to their users and getting that feedback first hand – Only then will a product and a Product Manager succeed.


Check out the video on the event below and the article HERE