What are the top product management skills required to be a product manager?

A product manager or PM is in charge of a business’s products. They study the anatomy of products to become experts in product development.

However, technical skills aren’t the only skills they have in their repertoire. PMs should also work on their people skills to guide team members and innovate efficient work processes.

Whether searching for a job or moving up within an organisation, a PM should constantly upgrade their product management skills to stay competitive.

In this article, let’s look at the skills a product manager needs to develop.

Hard and Soft Product Manager Skills in 2022

Below is the list of important product manager skills that every PM should look to master:

Hard Skills

Also referred to as technical skills, hard skills include learned skills in building product roadmap or strategies, writing technical specs and the ability to use advanced product management technology effectively.

The following are the hard skills that a product manager is supposed to gain: 

  • Conducting Market Research

Studying the market is critical for the development of a new product. When it comes to conceptualising a new product, market research is crucial to determine if the product has an audience and how it can best serve them. Here, a PM needs to assess customer needs and gather customer feedback. They may need to work with a user research team and conduct user interviews and surveys.

  • Understanding of Web Development if in IT

While PMs do not necessarily need to master coding and programming if your industry is iT, it’s still good to have an idea about this process. Although it isn’t directly related to your role, being a good product manager also means you care about your industry. In addition, it helps you in effective communication with the engineering team.

  • Writing Technical Specs

Developing new product ideas and optimisations covers a major part of the product manager’s role. However, without specific technical requirements, the product development can be delayed and get stuck in the pre-production stage. PMs should be able to lay out detailed technical requirements, product specs, and product features to guide their designers and engineering team in a specific direction.

  • Knowledge of User Experience Best Practices

While a product team often consists of UI and UX experts, a PM should have technical knowledge of user experience best practices. This will help a product manager to speak the same language as the product team and have a mutual understanding of how time-consuming or quick a task can be.

Soft Skills

Soft skills, which include leadership, prioritisation, and interpersonal skills, are vital in leading the product team. It is also crucial for getting the products through the product life cycle efficiently and effectively.

Soft skills in product management include:

  • Analytical Skills & Critical Thinking

Product managers should be able to analyse data and information and provide insights to their teams to ensure that the product provides value to both the customers and the business. For them to make smart product decisions, they should possess the ability to think critically and weigh their options.

  • Leadership Skills

Product managers at all levels require great leadership skills to get the products into development and meet the deadlines. Product managers work with representatives from various teams, including designing, development, engineering, marketing, sales and other teams. Leadership skills are necessary for getting all the teammates on the same page and working towards attaining the same goal.

  • Flexibility

Product managers must keep up with changes in the business and the competitive landscape and stay flexible to ensure the timely and efficient development and launch of products. In addition to keeping up with daily changes, they should possess good prioritisation skills to adjust their team’s priorities according to the changes.

  • Problem Solving

At its core, product management is all about identifying customer pains and business challenges and creating products to solve them. A problem-solving mindset is essential for brainstorming product ideas.

  • Time Management 

Without time management, PMs will not be able to juggle everything on their plate and push products through to launch. These skills can be improved with shifting priorities and as you learn what works best for you. 

  • Communication Skills

Proper written and spoken communication skills are critical to ensure a product’s vision is communicated correctly to the team and guide them into launching successful products. Product managers must communicate to people outside their team, such as investors, especially when reporting on product success or scope for improvement.

To become a successful product manager, you should possess the abovementioned skills. There are many ways to acquire these skills, including listening to podcasts, reading expert blogs and attending product management conferences.

Another effective way to develop a product management skill set is to attend product management certification courses online. They can provide you with specialised knowledge and skills to grow as a product manager.