12 Core Competencies For Product Managers

Written by John Cutler  | 

2 min


Product Management is not magic.

Product Management is not magic.

A college student asked me recently about product management “skills”. I thought for a bit and sent her this list. The key here is that these product manager skills can be learned and practiced. It isn’t magic. Other things must be learned the hard way.

haven’t listed things like Agile, scrum, roadmaps, backlogs, user-story writing, etc. You can read a couple books and get the gist. Learning “Agile” in one organization might not help you in your next job. However…

Learning to communicate clearly or facilitate a meeting effectively will serve you for your whole career (in product management, or otherwise).

product managers team meeting

Running an effective meeting is a great way to gain team trust. Photo by Robin Yang

Product Managers: Learn. Practice. Repeat.

Product management is an ongoing cycle of learning, then adjusting, and repeating that cycle. The following list of skills isn’t exclusive to product managers and can translate into a variety of careers. And with that, a list of 12 core competencies for Product Managers:

  1. Conduct effective customer/user interviews
  2. Build revenue, pricing, and adoption models. Micro/macroeconomics
  3. Experiment design and analysis. Statistics
  4. Effective meeting design and facilitation
  5. Mapping and understanding complex competitive, partner, and customer ecosystems. Complexity and systems thinking. Domain research
  6. Basic data modeling, JSON, XML, working knowledge of relational and non-relational databases. SQL, REST APIs, processing data using Python, etc.
  7. Experience with various analytics tools, and business intelligence tools. Know what you’re looking for, and where to find it.
  8. Broad understanding of usability, usability testing, usability heuristics. Ability to communicate to the user experience team using a common language
  9. Awareness of cognitive biases, and how they impact decision making.
  10. Communication skills: listening, verbal, writing, and visual communication
  11. Effective note-taking
  12. Time-management

Are there any product management skills not listed here that you’ve found useful? Tweet them to us @pendoio and get a free t-shirt, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more tips from our product team.

This post from our Senior Product Manager, John Cutler, was originally published on Medium.