Product management teaches you to think critically, make difficult decisions, and identify areas of opportunity in tough situations. How product managers develop and grow these skills will vary, though. There’s no blueprint to follow and there’s no secret to success.
So how can we help someone get started in this world of product management? What can we do to make sure they’re flexing the right muscles? To set new PMs up for success, we have to give them actionable advice and tangible tasks that help them get their hands dirty within their first few weeks.
We’ve welcomed a few new PMs and APMs (associate product managers) to the team recently and have learned some useful onboarding lessons, made a few mistakes, and identified pieces of advice that have helped them hit the ground running. Here are nine key tips we share with new product management leaders at HubSpot:
- Understanding product management: Focus on the problem and seek a quick development cycle.
- Making decisions: Think through your decisions out loud.
- Spending your time wisely: Do the work that will support your team the most.
- Prioritizing your work: Think about the majority of customers.
- Talking to customers: Accept phone calls and learn to ask open-ended questions.
- Documenting your learnings: Catalogue what you learn.
- Measuring value: Find out how helpful your product actually is.
- Being a team builder: Enable your teammates and collaborate with them.
- Reinforcing the vision: Keep things simple by revisiting the long-term mission and vision.
While these slides cover the fundamentals for both existing product managers and new hires, they can't emphasize enough the most important lesson of all: learn fast. The only competitive advantage you have is your pace of learning. As Matt LeMay put it in "The Past and Future of Product Management," product needs people who “excel at adaptability and quick thinking — people who are lowercase-a “agile.”