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What are the most important soft and hard skills PMs can build to become successful in their field going forward?
- Ability to communicate well - Someone told me early in my career: The single most important PM skill he looks for when hiring a PM is communication. Communication is really a proxy for building trust, driving alignment, having healthy debates when there’s conflict and committing to a path forward. That’s all under the hood of good communication, and is instrumental in driving product teams forward.
- Data driven mindset - relevant to qual as much as to quant. Ask yourself and teams the right questions. Become familiar with qualitative research tools, understand what your dashboards need to look like, and get your dashboards in place. Be empowered to make data-driven decisions.
- Ruthlessly prioritize - every day you have more you want to do than you will have time to do it. That’s just the reality. Every human has 24 hours, and one can’t change that. Make sure you prioritize your team and the team's time and resources.
My top soft skills:
- Storytelling: As PMs, we must communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely to a range of stakeholders, including developers, designers, executives, and customers. Personally, I spend a good chunk of time creating artifacts that align multiple stakeholders on the direction of my area.
- Natural curiosity: I never stop asking a why question. I don't assume others have asked this question or might have a better understanding of customer needs or architecture constraints. I'm always curious to understand conceptually how things work and why they are needed.
- Team play: successful PMs should always start with strong working relationships. I empathize with each of my teammates and deeply care about their personal and professional lives. This pays good dividends allowing me to bounce ideas and ask why questions frequently.
My top hard skills:
- UX design: great PMs are obsessed with perfecting their craft. During my time at Apple, I remember "Simplify. Simplify. Simplify" written on the wall to bring the best UX out of everyone who worked on a new feature.
- Technical knowledge: While PMs are not expected to code, a solid technical background fosters productive debate with engineering teams. From my experience, presenting an ideal-world PRD often = 3-6+ months estimate. Deeply understanding technical constraints allows PMs to have a better sense of time vs. UX tradeoffs, thus shipping products to market faster.
- Data analysis: All PMs should be comfortable with data analysis to inform product decisions. This means gathering and analyzing usage data and market trends to inform product roadmap.
Related Ask Me Anything Sessions
realtor.com Sr. Director, Product Operations, Casey Flinn on Product Management Skills
July 26 @ 10:00AM PST
Gainsight Director, Product Management, Sailaja Kalle on Product Management Skills
July 13 @ 10:00AM PST
Carta Director of Product Management, Anton Kravchenko on Product Management Skills
March 14 @ 10:00AM PST
Top Product Management Mentors
Netflix Director of Product
Head of Product, VP
Salesforce Senior Director of Product, Einstein AI
GitLab Group Manager, Product Management
Figma Group Product Manager, Production Experience
Atlassian Head of Product, Enterprise Agility
HubSpot Senior Director of Product Management, Fintech
GitLab Director of Product Management
Patreon Product Lead, Member Experience
Matterport VP of Product
What products do you really admire, either overall or particular elements?Possible overlaps btw Product Managers, Business Owners and Marketing What does a product operations manager need to be exceptional at compared to a product manager?What advice do you have for recent graduates that want to go straight into product management?How do you determine success metrics for a promotion for product managers? Are there any key metrics someone must meet before they qualify?When establishing product operations, what do your 30 / 60 / 90 look like?