How to learn product management
September 25, 2018
September 25, 2018
Product management is one of those few career paths where there is not a direct way to get into it and leaves many young professionals wondering how to learn product management and advance in that career direction. Since there is no degrees available and typically not an entry level position you can directly apply for it can take a while to really move into the role however there are things you can be doing to get yourself ready for the position.
One thing to always remember is that the bad news is that there is not a clear defined career path for you to follow to realize how to learn product management on the other side, the good news is that there is no career path that you are forced down to become a product manager. As a result, the field is wide open for a variety of backgrounds to move into. You could be a technical resource, business resource, an analyst or any other niche role in an organization and still be able to move into that product management position as long as you are able to show you have the skills required to do the job.
If you are trying to find out how to learn product management, we have some tips for you!
1. Soft Skills Are Critical: Soft skills like how you communicate with your team and manager are absolutely critical for success as a product manager. In whatever role you are in getting started, show you can listen to your team members, you can communicate clearly and respect those around you. How to learn product management really starts with relationships and learning how to build them and grow them because product managers coordinate work assignments across teams that do not report to them and need to sell everyone on their vision. They need customers to validate their ideas and drive their product. Product managers need people and in whatever career you are in, focus on how you build relationships and be able to prove you can do this well.
2. Organized: Product managers need to be organized in order to coordinate the various parts of product planning such as competitor analysis, feature comparisons, customer feedback management and all the while keeping a pulse on the day to day operations and execution of specific releases and features that are actively worked on. How to learn product management really requires you to show that you can manage a number of assignments at a given time and track project level details and deliverables.
3. Show you care: Product managers need to be invested in both the product and business they work in and understand that the product drives the business. Get invested in the companies you work for and be engaged in the products you support. Learn the metrics that drive your business and what the moving parts are that change those metrics. Make suggestions for your business and product. Be vocal and an active participant in your business and product as much as you can to show you have input and your own vision for the product no matter what your current role is.
4. Show empathy: Always remember products exist to solve customer pain points. How to learn product management is learning how to put yourself in your customer shoes so you can understand their pain points and work with a team to resolve them or make their life easier. Focus on customer needs, not your ego and you can go along way to showing you have what it takes to be a product manager.
5. Be active in your learning: While there is no formal education path for product managers, there are a number of online classes you can take, blogs you can read, books to learn from and probably even local meetup groups you can attend to hear from product managers about the challenges they face and how to solve them. Get involved in product management training and learning even before you are in the role to show you are serious about it and have done what you can to be prepared for it.
6. Watch others do it: Every business that is based on a product has someone managing their product. How to learn product management starts with watching how your product manager is working. What do they do well? What would you do differently? You may not have someone with the title in your organization but you have someone doing the work of a product manager so watch them, learn from them and see if they will be a mentor for you.
The best way how to learn product management is to just stop and fully understand that for every company the specific role of a product manager can vary and the exact skills change based on how the product that the company works on, the culture of the business and size of the business. To become most qualified for this type of role, focus on the skills that will be used which include your communication, organization, customer care and a drive to see the product and business grow beyond what it currently is.