August 16, 2017

Earned Authority #1: Continuously Develop Your Skills And Knowledge in the Product Management Domain

In my last post  “All The Responsibility, But No Authority – Get Over It!”, I introduced the importance of Earned Authority and 4 ways to achieving it.   Today, I will address the first one in more detail:  Continuously Develop Your Skills And Knowledge in the Product Management Domain.

I see at least six potential ways that we as Product Managers can develop our PM skillsets.   These are:

  • Get Some Training – I think too many Product Managers have never going through any kind of formal training and while they have done the best they can to learn on the job, they still have gaps in their understanding of the role and skills they can use.   I worked as a Product Manager for about 5 years before I went through my first formal training.  I was pleased to see that I had done many things correctly, but I also learned a number of things that I could do be even better.   Since then, I have been through several other training courses and each time, I remind myself of aspects that I have forgotten and learn something new.  Even today as an instructor, I’m constantly learning from the unique experiences of my students.
  • Read – When I first started in Product Management, there were one or two books on the discipline.  Today, there are numerous books specifically on the topic and many more that touch areas that will help us improve in our roles.  There have been several great discussions on LinkedIn Groups on recommended books for PMs.
  • Network and Participate –  Ten years ago, there were a few events that catered to PMs and PMMs.  Today, are many Product Management organizations and ProductCamps where you can meet others in the discipline and learn new perspectives on the role.  If there is a ProductCamp near you and you haven’t yet going, or you have only going once, shame on you.  You’re only hurting yourself.
  • Attend Free Webinars – several organizations offer free opportunities to listen in on a webinar or on-line radio/twitter session and learn new aspects of the PM and PMM role.  Several that I know well include AIPMM and Global Product Management Talk.    They are FREE and bring the smartest minds in the industry.
  • Get Certified – I hear a lot of debate on whether a certification in Product Management/Product Marketing is necessary or worthwhile.   I’m a strong believer that anyway that you can differentiate yourself and improve your credibility, then it is worth it, and a recognized certification is one way to do that.   Many people have already used certifications to help them get that first PM/PMM role or to advance in their careers.   When you look at certifications, I would recommend a certification that is vendor independent and actually tests your ability to apply your knowledge and skills and not one that simply tests your ability to regurgitate a particular framework.
  • Find a Mentor – Even after going through formal training, you’re going to find a number of situations where you don’t have the answers or experience on how to handle.  This is where a mentor can be a great boost to your career.  They can help you work through difficult situations and help push you to be better as a Product Manager.   Your mentor does not have to be your boss, but needs to be someone with whom you have mutual respect and that you know brings a world of experience to help you.

Bottom-line, the more you invest in improving your skillsets, the better you will perform as a Product Manager or Product Marketer and the greater credibility you’ll have with your colleagues.

 

 

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