As a product designer, you’ve worked with successful product managers before. You know that a good product manager can:
- Understand and anticipate user needs and expectations
- Work with diverse product teams, including designers and developers
- Keep products on track through a detailed road map
- Help shape the evolution of a product through many different versions
Perhaps, after working with a successful product manager, you felt that you, too, could take on the role. If so, that’s good news: we’re seeing strong demand for product managers across industries.
So, how can you make the switch from product designer to product manager? Here are four key points to consider as you transition roles.
Consider the strategy behind your product.
As a product designer, your role is critical. You understand user needs and create visual solutions that help them achieve those goals. But as a product manager, you’re now responsible for the user experience as a whole. You’ll need to work with colleagues in engineering, sales, marketing, revenue, and more to ensure that the product remains a success. So, if you’re interested in taking this next step, start to consider the strategy behind the product, not just the individual decisions that keep the product running.
Think about how best to work with your colleagues.
One big change you’ll experience as a product manager is the need to work across disciplines. As a designer, you speak a consistent language with your colleagues, often based in an agreed-upon design framework. As a product manager, however, you need to be able to speak multiple languages, including understanding the needs of developers, salespeople, and customer success teams, too. This means prioritizing communication and goal setting that work for everyone.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
You will enter into your first product management role with a wealth of knowledge about the design decisions behind your product. But you might have gaps in your knowledge of other areas that affect the product. One of the most important first steps that a product manager can take is asking questions of every team they work with to better understand their process, goals, and objectives. Your colleagues will appreciate your interest and the answers you receive will make you better informed about critical aspects of the product.
Talk to other product managers before making the leap.
There’s nothing that can top insight from people who are already in the role, so make time to learn from existing product managers at your organization or related teams. Also consider the perspectives of other designers who have made the same decision and aren’t so sure it was the right one. Product design and product management are two complementary but distinct disciplines, and you shouldn’t expect to be able to instantly jump between the two without any friction.
If you’re interested in exploring product management roles, start with your current organization. They may be looking to promote within or to fill a junior position. Once you have your feet wet, reach out to professional recruiters like the team at Clear Point to help you navigate a fast-changing marketplace. We’re here to help you transition into the product leader that you know you can be.