This article is all about few uncommon and unexpected things a Product Manager performs daily in any internet product management profileSwaprakash Sarkar
Believe most of us are already aware of what is expected of a Product Manager profile in any internet company, starting from being a mini CEO of the product to be the interface between business, UX & technology. Here in addition to those common attributes of a PM profile I am going to point out few not so common traits but important qualities a Product Manager should possess.
1. The real test of a Product Manager begins post launch of the product
A product manager is responsible for the entire product life cycle starting from the conceptualisation till launch. Most of the product managers feel accomplished once the product is launched. But the real test of a true product manager begins post launch of the product. Once the product is launched the difference between the actual behaviour of the product and the product manager’s hypothesis is exposed. One needs to be patient and carefully observe minutely the metrics movement the product was entitled for. In most of the cases the movement of metrics is slow and follows a different track than it was supposed to.
There might be requirement of a product tweak or changes in operations and process to get the metrics movement back to track. All these learnings, tweaking is part of the post launch product lifecycle which seldom gets the attention it is supposed to. The journey to achieving the product success metrics is time taking, full of surprises, may be depressing but is worth taking for a product manager to bring out the true potential of his/her product.
Food for thought: No product manager can predict the outcome of a product even in similar conditions unless it hits the launch road with the actual customer.
2. A Product Manager’s EQ cannot stand between the truth and his/her sentiment
As a product manager you must shed your emotional quotient and trust the customer in the longevity of the product post it is launched. Respect the truth that will be communicated by the users of the product in due course of time. Do not let your hard work, emotions, biasedness & sacrifice become barrier in ascertaining the true feedback and ensure the product which is made for the user is serving the user truly in a longer run. You may have to face some harsh feedback, make some unwanted changes, shed away some fancy features but that is what the product was supposed to serve. The product you launched is now a Customer’s baby and his EQ should only matter here.
Food for thought: Emotions may sometimes distract us from true usability of the product, which can be found out only deciphering the customer’s emotions.
3. A Product Manager’s KRA is way beyond a Product Manager’s KRA
To be fair there is no defined Product Manager’s KRA. It is unfair to expect that a PM will be performing only the responsibilities that was written in the job description. In fact no job description can fully capture what a product manager does daily. By textbook definition a Product Manager is the bridge between UX, technology & business. But, some days you might be expected to finalise a legal contract or do unit testing along with the developer or close negotiations with a vendor or just be a salesman of your idea.
A product manager must wear multiple hats to get his/her product see the light of the day. And the hats can be as diverse as that of a Functional Architect, a Procurement Manager, a Legal SPOC, a Project Manager or just a Python Developer. You cannot say no to any weird responsibility that comes along the way, as if you do not do it may be no one else will do it. For the sake of your product you must get your hands dirty and make sure the product is on track.
Food for thought: As a Product Manager, be ready to experience something new every day and open to do diverse and sometimes unexpected roles daily.
4. A Product Manager must be a good listener first before being a good speaker
Listen, observe, take decisions and repeat, a Product Manager’s motto should be like this. Listen everyone, even from the slightest possibility you may get an idea which can change your perception. A good product manager does not always ideate himself rather he converts meaningful thoughts from anyone to a meaningful product. In the product journey a PM needs to listen to all stakeholders he meets, the business, the delivery & customer executives, the dev team, the designers, the customers, the sellers or the leadership. A fruitful & worthwhile idea can come from anywhere and can change the course of the product for betterment. So, before a Product Manager starts sharing his opinion he should listen to all possible opinions.
Food for thought: Focus more on your empathising and observation skills over your oratory skills. A product manager’s success depends on the value his product delivers rather than what he has promised.
5. Your product is not yours, it is the customers’ product
Is the Product created by you is your baby? Not really. You may have given birth to the baby, but it will be adopted by the Customer. Unfortunately, you have to hand over your baby to the customer and all future decisions regarding the baby will be taken/influenced by the customer only. The product you launched is now a Customer’s baby and his need, decisions should only matter here.
Food for thought: Your customer of the product will be the best guide for the success of the product.
These uncommon traits mostly cannot be defined and measured at any point of a PM’s journey, however he has to keep on performing multiple unexpected activities to keep his/her product rolling. Want to hear or share more on a PM’s journey, do drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .