A product manager is a critical role in any company. They're responsible for ensuring that product-centric projects are completed on time, within budget and according to specifications.
The career path is an exciting journey with lots of on- and off-ramps. It's also a rewarding one that is constantly growing in demand (and has a high salary to boot).
However, just like any other career path — not all product managers are created equal. Some are good at their job and some just... could do much better.
After all, being a good product manager is not a walk in the park. Because it's so complex, it can be hard to get started. And poor product management can lead to many other harmful consequences that ripple through an organization.
In this article, we'll discuss what makes a product manager "good" or "bad." We'll also provide some tips on how to become a successful one. Remember, no matter what you're doing today, you can always improve your skills and grow.
Let's get started!
Good product manager traits
Being a good product manager is so much more than having a PMP certification, years of experience or a set of standard operating procedure (SOPs). It's a combination of traits that you must have in order to be successful.
Here are some traits of a good project manager.
Have a clear vision and alignment on goals
A good product manager always has a clear vision of where they are, where they're going and the steps it'll take to get there.
As they always think two steps ahead, they're able to see the big picture and understand the details of their product, their target audience and the market as a whole. This allows them to come up with creative solutions that address both short-term and long-term goals. They're more strategic in their decision-making and focus on the most important things.
They aren't just all talk — a good product manager prioritizes execution. They have the ability to get things done and make things happen by delegating to their team.
Adapt quickly to changes
The world of technology is always changing, and a good product manager knows that they need to be able to adapt quickly to changes. They aren't afraid of change and are always looking for new opportunities to improve.
In order to do this, they need to have a good understanding of the industry they are in and keep up with the latest trends. They also need to quickly assess how the changes will impact their product and make decisions accordingly.
A good product manager always puts the customer first. They understand that the customer is always right and that their feedback is essential to creating a successful product. They surely know how to maintain a good customer relationship.
They go above and beyond to understand their needs and wants and always take their feedback into account when making decisions about the product.
They leverage various mediums just to garner customers’ feedback, like social media platforms, surveys, polls, or even explainer videos. This way, they ensure that the product can meet their today's customer's needs and even exceed their expectations.
Deliver on time and within budget
A good product manager knows how to deliver on time and within budget. They rely on strong time management and time tracking. Also, they have a strong understanding of the product (and project) management process and know how to efficiently manage their resources.
This allows them to stay on track and meet deadlines while also staying within budget. They are also able to negotiate better rates for services and products, which saves the company money.
Effectively manage team members and stakeholders.
For a good product manager, it's not all about them. They know how to effectively manage team members and stakeholders. It can lead to a better generation strategy.
They understand that they can't do everything themselves and need to rely on others to help them achieve their goals. This includes delegating tasks, building relationships with key stakeholders and managing expectations. That's why behind a good, successful product manager is always a good team.
Bad product manager traits
Now that we know some good traits of a product manager, let's take a look at some poor ones.
Remember that having a bad trait doesn't mean you're doomed to being a poor product manager. The sooner you're aware of these issues, the sooner you can resolve them. Some traits to look out for are:
Lack of vision or focus
Poor product management doesn't have a clear vision for a product and often lacks focus. The product manager might change their mind or switch direction halfway through a project. This can result in a disorganized product and team, as well as missed deadlines and poor budget development.
They are also not very strategic in their decision-making, which can lead to wasted resources and time.
To prevent this, collaborate with your team to set SMART goals and KPIs — and stick to them.
Micro-manage team members
A poor product manager might micromanage their team members. They don't trust others to do their job and like to be in control of everything. This can lead to a tense and stressful working environment, as well as low morale among team members.
When the working environment is tense, it's difficult for team members whether the freelance or co-working team to be productive and come up with innovative ideas.
Set clear expectations from the beginning, then trust your team to do their jobs.
Don't listen to customers
A bad product manager often doesn't have a good relationship with their customers. They don't understand their needs and wants and often ignore their feedback. This can lead to a disconnect between the product and the customer, which can hurt sales and brand reputation.
When they don't seem like they care about the customers, then how can they expect to create a product that their customers are interested in using?
Work with your customer success team to create a reliable feedback loop. Then incorporate results into your product planning.
Poor communication skills
They don't communicate clearly and effectively with their team members, stakeholders, and customers. This can lead to misunderstandings and frustration among all parties involved. In order for a product to be successful, good communication is essential.
A quick pro-tip with a manager with not-so-good communication skills: you probably can provide a presentation video to facilitate the process of delivering messages and help make the point properly.
Being a project manager is a very demanding job. It's often difficult to keep track of everything that's going on. A poor project manager is often disorganized and can't seem to keep their ducks in a row. This can lead to chaos and confusion among team members, and a lack of clarity on the project goals-- which in the end will cause them to fall behind schedule and go over budget.
Keeping up with current trends and changes in the market is essential for a good project manager. inflexible and doesn't want to change their vision or plans, even if it means that their product will become irrelevant.
They are also not very open to feedback and new ideas, which can lead to stagnation within the team.
A good product manager plays a significant role in a successful product, and a successful product is what every company wants. We can even say that it's the highest impact contribution that anyone can make in the firm.
With that in mind, it's crucial to understand what it takes to become a good, successful product manager and avoid the poor traits that we've talked about.
About the Author
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, the award-winning explainer video services. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: Andre Oentoro