As the first area of expertise, knowledge about the domain and the product comes top of all. If nothing else, a Product Manager has to know about the market the company is operating in, its customers, and its product offering. Of course, the tools of the PM trade are required, too:
After discovery, another set of skills refers to being able to develop ideas and drive implementation of solutions:
Finally, when it’s time to release a product or feature, dedicated skills are required to ensure successful roll-out:
The above PM Role Map is a tool to coach team members through their careers in Product Management. Sometimes, however, a more visual tool is needed that allows depicting the current state of affairs and maybe also map out how different team members compare against each other — or how a candidate compares a target state, say when discussing promotions.
As can be seen easily, the inner circle reflects exactly the same categories that were used above to group skills and competencies of Product managers while the outer ring lists the respective skills as explained above.
For example, the following are all part of discovery:
Being more visual than the tables above, the PM Competency 4×4 Wheel allows for some very nice and easy-to-grasp visualizations when comparing a team member against the requirements of the current position — or against those of the next position when a promotion is under discussion:
For example, the chart on the right does not depict a personal assessment (for obvious reasons) but instead the potential requirements of Associated PM (APM), PM, and Senior PM (SPM) with growing competence levels.
Thus, gaps and improvement areas of a Product Manager become immediately visible, so that objectives and focus areas for the coming months can be agreed between the Product Manager and her boss.
To benefit from the model the most, we recommend a quarterly cadence of 1:1 performance review meetings which can be run as follows:
Specifically when the model is used for the first time, the Product Leader needs to explain its structure and content: What are the skills we aim for in the various dimensions, what do we mean, and how do we assess?
When discussing, specifically watch out for areas where both parties disagree significantly. Do not get obsessed about nuances but when the Product Manager believes she can work on a task completely independently while the Product Leader sees the need for constant supervision – then you have a mismatch. (By the way, also the other way around when the Product Manager does a great job but shows a lot of self-doubts.)
This article discusses the technique that Marty Cagan use and advocate for assessing a product manager. It is the foundation for then coaching the person to success.
You are managing product people and are searching for a framework that helps you fostering career conversations with your product managers and assessing your product people in a structured way.