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4 Core Attributes of a Product Manager

Bonny Calfy | July 29, 2022

More than 41,370 product managers are employed in the United States, according to the career website Zippia. It’s an enticing role for those looking to break into the tech world; product managers use critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving every day.

“Good product design is about empathy for those utilizing our product,” said Dickens Aubourg, Paycom’s vice president of product management. “We want to ensure the experience we create for our clients is something we’ve undergone.”

Are you interested in pursuing a career in product management but not sure where to start? According to the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, core competencies for the role include:

  • business acumen
  • market orientation
  • soft skills like effective communication or time management
  • technical skills such as understanding the tech stack and managing the development life cycle

If you’re looking to dip your toe into the waters of product management, here are four characteristics to help get you started.

Creativity

From the beginning, creative thinking is a project manager’s best friend. Understanding the product and how users interact with it and defining problems before they arise are ways a product manager uses innovative thinking to succeed.

According to a product manager at Paycom, creativity comes with the territory.

“As a product design team, we are the creative problem solvers who make sure the user experience of our products meets the needs and expectations of our clients,” the product manager said. “We create a user’s full journey through our system to make sure their Paycom experience is seamless, efficient and consistent, while also creating beautiful designs.”

Curiosity

Since product managers often proactively troubleshoot while creating a product that appeals to a wide range of users, curiosity is essential. Continuous learning and testing are everyday occurrences for a product manager.

For example, before Paycom launched its Manager on-the-Go® mobile tool, a clear need in the market for such technology revealed itself. Curiosity about the market and how managers would interact via mobile to approve time and other HR tasks involving the employees they supervise was critical to testing and rolling out the tool.

As a result, Manager on-the-Go solved the marketplace’s problem. Paycom’s first major software release of 2020, it was named one of the year’s Top HR Products by Human Resource Executive magazine.

Collaboration

Since product managers impact all aspects of a product or feature’s life cycle, bringing in outside collaborators is critical. Collaborating with a passionate, driven group working continually to enhance software and meet clients’ evolving needs will make you a stronger product manager.

In addition, understanding other departments and how they impact a product’s development, marketing and distribution will help you level up in your career.

Confidence

Product managers are innovators at heart. With trial and error embedded, innovation can be complex. However, confidence in your knowledge and willingness to learn will take you far. And with the proper training — from industry certifications to leadership development — product managers can hone their skills and grow their confidence long after onboarding wraps up.

Aubourg noted his department’s guiding principles lend themselves to trusting and believing in team members. They prioritize curiosity, collaboration and confidence in their pursuit of empathetic, game-changing solutions.

Paycom product managers play a crucial role in the company’s success. If you’re interested in taking the next step in your career as part of Paycom’s dynamic product management team, learn more here.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s recruitment marketer team lead, Bonny Calfy writes about such topics as human capital management, company culture, talent acquisition and career advice. Her brand-awareness efforts at Paycom have included launching Paycom Careers’ blog and social media channels, and producing several recruiting videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside of work, Bonny enjoys reading, fishing and spending time with her son and husband.