Answered an above question about hard skills. I don't think its generally necessary for PMs to read code but I do think it is important for you to understand the concept/principles. An overview would be very helpful in making you a good partner to your other more technical peers. It also helps when talking through any blockers or considerations to keep in mind.
1. Understand what about product management is interesting to you
2. Research roles and opportunities that speak to what you find interesting
3. Identify the gaps in your skills or experience
4. Fill those gaps :) Take a course, read, volunteer to build something.
5. Network and build a group of people who can help advocate on your behalf when roles come up in their companies
6. Start the application process
7. Develop relationships with recruiters or hiring managers
The biggest mistake I will mention here is not getting stakeholder buy-in. A lot of times we make assumptions about what people want and do not take the time ahead of to understand needs. Speak to those needs and share any constraints. Work to bring alignment across stakeholders. In the end, stakeholders lose trust in the product manager because they do not feel seen or heard. It is important that pre-work is done ahead of time so that when roadmaps are being presented, nothing comes as a surprise.
The hard skills that come to mind for me are:
1. Technical - This is going to vary depending on the type of career you want to have and the company you want to work for. Generally, it is important for you to have an understanding of technical development principles and vocabulary. You want to be a strong partner to your peers and competitively, this will put you ahead of others.
2. Analytical - Data is an important part of the product management journey. Someone said "If you care about it, measure it" and its very true. Data is critical to helping you understand how to build your roadmap, see your threats and opportunities and competitive performance. You will want to feel verse in the tools that help you measure and what they are telling you.
3. Business skills - As a PM, you have to understand the product AND the business behind it. You need to speak to revenue and profit, budgeting, forecasting, etc. The ability to have these conversations with company leaders is critical.
4. Industry knowledge - When working on product, you need to understand the landscape in which you are competing. You are tracking key market trends for your project and constnatly reporting on that.
5. Strategic Thinking - You need to be able to make and anticipate paths based on your industry knowledge and business understanding. You'll have to consider company goals and determine what is the best way to get there.
6. Ruthless Prioritization + Decision Making - In product, you will always have too many options. You will have to pick a path and fairly quickly. You will need to understand what things get you to goal quickest.
I am very much a systems thinker and like to understand the whole. I started my product career focusing on product management but quickly was exposed to the different facets of product management incl product design, engineering and product marketing. I wanted to do a bit of a deep dive in each of these areas so I could better understand how to use them in my craft. So I worked in those spaces, built out teams and best practices around how to do them well. Ultimately, I did that in service of making myself a stronger product/technology leader. I feel that as a product manager, you should be comfortable and aware with product marketing principles and be able to be a strong partner in the space. I'm not sure I ever really chose product management over product marketing. I just incorporated it into my product toolkit.
I'm a fan of pairing. Often times Engineering works so closely with product, it is easy enough to sit more closely with your product partner and work through problems together. Ask questions and learn while on the job. If and when you get comfortable enough, start to volunteer to take on different tasks. I've worked with engineers who pair with me in writing requirements, buidling out tickets, reviewing designs, conducting user research. With this, you can now speak to first hand experiences and learnings within your existing company or any new ones you may be looking to move into.
There is definitely a fine line here. Every decision cannot be data driven and will likely be informed to some extent BUT part of the excitment of product management is leaning on that intuition. In some cases, you will have data to back up your assumptions and in others you will not. Every situation is going to be different and you'll have to become an educated risk taker. Leaning on previous experiences or patterns you've seen somewhere else.
It's hard for me to think anyone is 'doomed' per se but I would make this a focus area if you are truly trying to get into product management. Making smart decisions quickly is a strong product management trait and so to be successful, you will need to be comforatble doing that. I would probably reverse the lens and ask yourself if you would be happy making smart decisions quickly everyday. Does that excite you? If so, then dive into why you can't or don't want to currently. If it is not exciting, consider what you like about product management and see if you can get that same joy in another role.
I personally have been teaching at The Product School and have seen benefits/value from those coming out of the course. It is really going to come down to your own learning style however. You could also very much find free reading materials if you are unable to invest in taking courses at the moment. You can go on youtube and simply search 'product management' and consuming videos and talks. You could go on twitter and read through the numerous shared docs there. It really comes down to whether you personally need structure or can create your own structure.
I like to look at feedback as a gift and approach it with an open mind. How I would approach this is:
1. Do some soul searching :) understanding your own communication style. How do you communicate? How do you like to be communicated to? What things help you stay open minded? What things make you shut down? What are your values?
2. Once you have that. Setup a meeting with your manager and thank them for being open to giving you feedback but that you are having a bit of trouble understanding how to apply. In this meeting, share with them what you learned about yourself around communication. THEN you want to ask them how they too, would like to receive feedback.
3. Now that you have built your foundation of trust. Pick a specific bit of feedback you were given and ask to do a deep dive. Remember to be open minded. Sometimes when we receive feedback, we over personalize when that was not the intent. Understand what is trying to be communicated and then work together to understand how it could have been better communicated.
4. At the end of the meeting, share how you are feeling about the session. Ask your manager to do the same.
5. At the end of every 1:1 with your manager, ask them for feedback. In the moment, offer feedback on how it is being delivered if you feel it is not matching what was previously discussed.