Important skills for Product Owners

If you’re ready for some of the toughest challenges, here are some important skills that every great Product Owner should focus on.
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If you’ve ever taken on the role of Product Owner, then you know it can be challenging at times. Working in product development can feel like working for an evil mastermind who has so many brilliant ideas and schemes to keep you in your place. Great software companies are able to refine their ideas into something truly special and user-friendly, and that’s what we all want from our jobs. But it doesn’t come easy; in fact, it requires a lot of dedication and self-discipline. If you’re ready for some of the toughest challenges, here are some important skills that every great Product Owner should focus on:

Communication skills

No matter how smart and intuitive you are, it’s not helping if you are not able to communicate your ideas to your stakeholders and team members. You don’t need to be a public speaker, but you do need to be comfortable speaking to your team in person and over the phone. You’ll also need to know how to write business reports and documents as well as how to effectively communicate with stakeholders. Communication is a crucial skill for any Product Owner, especially in the early stages of their careers. Once you have more experience under your belt, you can branch out into other areas of your career. We often say; “Product Ownership is not about writing User Stories, but about telling the story of your users.”

Negotiating skills

Most Product Owners want to focus on crafting the best product for their users. But they may have to get their hands dirty to negotiate budgets, feature requests, and other aspects of their job. So it’s helpful if you know how to negotiate with stakeholders and team members. It’s important to make stakeholders aware of requests from other stakeholders, since you are often required to make trade offs. With team members it’s essential to be open and challenge the team to negotiate with you. As technical experts they could propose small adaptations which would be less challenging to implement or result in lower cost of maintenance.

Emotional intelligence

If you’ve read any articles on product management, then you’re probably aware that it’s a highly emotional profession. However, you don’t want to let your emotions get the best of you; you want to be mindful of their influence. As a Product Owner, you’ll deal with users who are frustrated by bugs, feature requests, and other aspects of the product. This is bound to frustrate you at times, but you want to remain calm and collected. You can do this by keeping a positive mental attitude and focusing on your end goals. Emotional intelligence is a crucial skill for any Product Owner.

Managing your time and attention

Being a Product Owner isn’t just about building great products. You’ll need to be strategic about how you spend your time, who you spend your time with, and how you prioritise your tasks. As a Product Owner, you won’t just have to manage your own time; you’ll also have to manage the team’s time. Not in the sense that you micro-manage your team, but you do want to make sure that they’re working on the right things. You will find yourself switching context between the big picture and the small details, which may affect your ability to focus. 

Working with Stakeholders

Most Product Owners will have to engage with customers, clients, and other stakeholders from time to time. This might involve communicating requirements, dealing with feature requests, and more. It’s crucial that you’re polite and respectful when you engage with stakeholders. You don’t want to be pushy and you don’t want to be rude. You also want to make sure that your communication is transparent and understandable. If you’re communicating with stakeholders and customers, then it’s crucial that you understand the needs and expectations of your customers. This can be done by collecting customer feedback and doing your own research.

Working with a team

If you’re willing to put in the time and dedication, then working with a team will be rewarding. You’ll learn from other Product Owners and your team members. You’ll be working on a product that’s likely to become a hit, so it’s worth taking the plunge and joining a team. Joining a team also gives you the opportunity to apply the skills you’ve learned from this article. Working with a team is a great way to expand your product management skills. If you’re eager to work with a team, then try finding a company that’s building a product that you find interesting. A company that’s building a product for a great user base might be a great fit for you.

Conclusion

Product Owners are responsible for shaping the product experience and features. Once you’ve put in the time and effort to become a Product Owner, you’ll have to deal with a lot of difficult situations that you might not have encountered before. As a Product Owner, you have to negotiate with stakeholders, communicate clearly, and make sure your team(s) know what to focus on. These skills aren’t easy to acquire and will take time to fully develop. However, the rewards are great; when you and the team deliver products that delight customers. Besides these skills will prove valuable in later stages of your career too!

Do you want to learn more? Check out our training for Product Owners.

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