ResourcesBlogHow to Get Promoted as a Product Manager

How to Get Promoted as a Product Manager


Having helped create and lead product teams over my career, one of the most frequent questions that I am asked by Product Managers in my 1:1 meetings is, 

“What can I do to enhance my chances for getting promoted?” 

While there are lots of things Product Managers can do to enhance their product management skills, the one area that I tell my co-workers to focus on is to demonstrate strategic thinking. While being more strategic can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask, I encourage Product Managers to think beyond short-term tasks and demonstrate their ability to think more holistically about the opportunities for their product and its market. Understand the broader business goals of the organization and the outcomes that business is trying to achieve, and how your product contributes to them. Be a curious participant in the markets of your product to be able to anticipate future trends and challenges and then develop strategic plans to address them.

So, what does this mean on a day-to-day basis for a Product Manager, and what should they focus on? Well, I would encourage them as an ambitious leader to consider these 6 key elements:

Understand the Business Context

 Gain a deep understanding of your organization’s overall business goals, objectives, and market positioning. This includes understanding the competitive landscape, market trends, customer needs, and industry dynamics. By understanding the broader context in which your product operates, you can make more informed decisions and align your product strategy with the company’s strategic goals.

Set Clear Goals and Objectives for Your Product 

Define clear, measurable goals and objectives for your product that align with your organization’s objectives. These goals should be specific, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). By setting clear goals, you provide a clear direction for your team and ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives.

Anticipate Future Trends and Challenges

Stay ahead of the curve by anticipating future trends, market shifts, and potential challenges that may impact your product. This could include emerging technologies, changes in consumer behavior, regulatory developments, or competitive threats. By anticipating these changes, you can proactively adjust your product strategy to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate risks.

[H2] Do Not be Afraid to Iterate and Adapt

 Recognize that strategic plans are not set in stone and may need to evolve over time. Be open to feedback, data, and market insights, and be willing to evolve your strategy as needed. This may involve pivoting in response to changing market conditions, revisiting priorities based on new information, or experimenting with different approaches to achieve your goals.

Align Stakeholders

Product Management is not a solo sport; you need to work to gain buy-in and alignment from key stakeholders, including executives, cross-functional teams, and external partners. Clearly communicate your strategic vision, rationale, and expected outcomes to ensure everyone is on the same page. Foster collaboration and build consensus around key decisions to drive the execution and implementation of your strategic initiatives.

Continuously Measure and Evaluate Success

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to track the success of your product’s strategic initiatives. Regularly monitor and evaluate performance against these metrics and use data-driven insights to inform future decisions. By measuring success, you can demonstrate the impact of your strategic thinking and justify investments in your product.

To move forward as a Product Manager, it is not about just delivering that next feature or overseeing yet another release – those are table stakes for senior Product Managers. Demonstrating strategic thinking as a product manager involves taking a holistic view of your product and its ecosystem, setting clear goals and priorities, anticipating future trends and challenges, adapting to change, and measuring success against key metrics. By incorporating these elements into your approach, you can effectively lead your product, and that strength will help you gain the visibility you need to move toward that next promotion.

Ken Kranseler
May 16, 2024