One Important Communication Skill Every Product Manager Needs to Improve

Posted by Kevin Jankay
Kevin Jankay
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Product Management Communication SkillsProduct managers need a variety of skills to excel in their positions, including the ability to be organized, creative, punctual, collaborative, and effective communicators. Of all the skills that a Product Manager must exhibit during the product development process, effective communication is the most vital to success. From product ideation to completion, good communication is necessary. 

As a product manager, you are the conduit through which information flows. It is your job to relay the company vision and goals to your product teams. It is also your role to stay engaged with each of your departments by scheduling regular check-ins, which are great opportunities to share information, stay updated on progress, and receive ideas and feedback. 

While effective communication covers many factors, such as written communication, visual presentations, meetings, emails, and more, the most vital skill that is required in all circumstances is the ability to listen. How you listen has a fundamental impact on how you relate to others, which is essential for communication.  


Why You Need to Listen to Your Stakeholders

Listen to StakeholdersIt may seem obvious to state that you need to listen to your stakeholders, but it bears repeating. A product manager cannot drive an effective product strategy until they clearly share the product goals with all stakeholders and those stakeholders understand the focus. Directing product development also requires the product manager to understand what each team needs and wants. 

To drive the product strategy forward, Product Managers should listen to the following stakeholders on a regular basis to gather relevant information:

  • Executives
    What is the broader vision of the company? What are the mid-to-long-term goals they hope to achieve?
  • Research and Development Teams
    What is the target market? What product/ features do they want? What type of customer feedback exists? Would it be beneficial to modify existing products to gain a competitive advantage?  
  • Design Team
    What kind of design will satisfy the needs of our target audience?
  • Engineering Team
    How well does the design translate into the effective functioning of the product?
  • Finance Teams
    What monetary budgets can we work with to realize the product we wish to manufacture? How does adding a new feature affect the existing budget?

These are questions that can only be answered by your product teams. They are experts in their fields, and their input is crucial when developing new products. 


A Valuable Resource of Information

Effective leadership requires that you take the time to listen to what your teams have to say. You can do this by engaging with them and encouraging discussion and feedback on a regular basis. Brainstorming and cross-collaborative sessions allow problem-solving and innovation. 


How to Be an Active Listener

Meet Often

Active listening is a skill that not everyone has, but one that can be developed with intentional practice. It requires listening without interrupting, refraining from jumping to conclusions, and asking relevant questions to learn more about a topic. Rather than setting up meetings where you do all the talking, allow your teams and stakeholders to share their ideas while you listen.

Regular meetings where you are an active listener are beneficial for many reasons. Four actions you can take to show your teams you are ready to listen and have heard what they have to say include:

  • Allowing your teams to provide feedback. 
  • Demonstrating that you have understood what has been said. 
  • Repeating what you have heard to ensure you have understood a point. 
  • Commenting on important points to promote further discussion. 


Boost Self-Confidence to Make your Teams Feel Valued

boost-moraleWhen you are fully engaged, and your team is aware of this, it elevates confidence and self-esteem, which allows them to realize their own value on the project. As a Product Manager, you want to nurture a high level of commitment from everyone on your team. 

To help foster better collaborations, you can promote the idea that your teams are not simply there to take orders. Instill the fact that they are an integral part of the production process. That way, information can flow smoothly and openly in both directions.


Show Empathy

When challenges arise, take an empathetic approach. Being a strong leader does not necessarily equate with taking on a harsh tone. Issues that arise within one department affect them all, so taking responsibility and providing assistance to resolve any problems promotes a strong team culture.


Using the Right Tools

Your communication strategy isn’t complete without the right tools to capture and relay the most up-to-date information. Goals communicated via text documents, financial information compiled using spreadsheets, and production updates shared using email lack cohesiveness. Investing in a singular platform where all teams can access the most current information from a single source of truth, such as Gocious PRM software, helps support your communication efforts and keeps everyone on the same page. 


Gocious PRM Software Screenshot: Plan Details Connect to Roadmaps


Embrace Agility

Saving & Recording IdeasProduct Roadmap Management (PRM) software provides a foundational base from which to create your Product Roadmap. Information from product teams informs the roadmap so that at any point in time, all stakeholders can receive a detailed view of what is happening in all aspects of product development. 

The dynamic nature of product manufacturing means that your process should constantly be evolving. Market conditions may change unexpectedly due to world events or supply chain disruptions, forcing you to adapt your product development strategy. 


Using the Right Tools

Tools will not automatically make you a better communicator or listener, but they can make it easier. Gocious provides an agile platform where changes to your product roadmap can be tracked and communicated efficiently. 

Consumer demand for features, the progress of your competitors, supply chain issues, and assembly line delays can all impact your product roadmap and demand adjustments. Gocious provides analysis tools that allow you to quantify the effect of any changes to your products, so you can make informed decisions that align with your company goals, not just as a reaction to the world. Informed, collaborative decision-making leads to better product choices, leading to long-term success. 


Gocious PRM Software Screenshot: Financial Roadmap Highlights


The PRM Software that Improves Your Communication and Product Development Strategy

Gocious is your single source of truth that provides a unified platform for all aspects of your product roadmap and a focal point for clear, effective communication. The collaborative tools built into Gocious help to improve communication timelines and provide a forum for cross-collaboration between product teams. Book your free demo to find out how Gocious can work for you.

Topics: Product Management

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