What would you think of a product manager who didn’t have a roadmap for their product? Maybe, that they aren’t setting themselves up for success. In this ProductTank Heidelberg talk, Greg Prickril, product management lead at Qualified ONE, provides a five-step framework for thinking about career development. Watch the video to see his talk in full, or read on for an overview of his key points:

  • Adopt a product manager mindset
  • Define your career motivation
  • Assess your competencies
  • Create a career roadmap
  • Actively manage your professional brand

Adopt a product manager mindset

Product managers without a roadmap for their career appear the same as those who don’t have a roadmap for their product. It might seem like their career isn’t important to them, and they aren’t setting themselves up for success.

Unfortunately, the majority of product managers don’t approach their careers strategically. But if you know how to manage a product, you can manage your career.

The first step is to adopt a product manager mindset, meaning that you are the product. This starts by assessing the problems in the market, how you can solve them, and how to measure and achieve success. First-principles also apply to a product management career. Before you start your journey, you need to know your destination, deliver as little as possible to reach your goals, and constantly evaluate your progress and adapt.

Define your career motivation

The next step is to define success, which means outlining your planning horizon, career vision, and goals & objectives. A planning horizon is usually 2-5 years but depends on several factors. For example, it could take around 6 months for aspiring product managers.

Assess your competencies

Next, as a product manager, you need to assess your competencies. This means identifying the observable behaviors that successful performers demonstrate on the job. Those behaviors result from various abilities, skills, knowledge, motivations, and traits an employee may possess.

Once you’ve established your vision, goals, and objectives, you need to assess your strengths and weaknesses and the key gaps you lack. The key building blocks for a product management career center around soft skills, product competency, domain expertise, and technical knowledge. You will need to identify five competencies based on your goals and objectives and talk to subject matter experts as necessary for each of these building blocks.

Create a career roadmap

A career roadmap is similar to a product roadmap. It shows how you will deliver on your strategy, the next positions you want, and the development activities required to prepare yourself. To create this roadmap, think about logical progression, consider the industry, include adequate lead time, and revisit it regularly.

Actively manage your professional brand

Finally, you need to manage your professional brand or how you are identified in the job market. This starts by understanding your most valuable professional asset and network. You can manage your brand by building your network directly, through social media, publishing, or creating an online portfolio.

The key takeaways from this talk are that if your product has a roadmap, so should your career. By following the five steps, you can define a process and then review and adapt your plan accordingly.

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