So you’ve just started your first job as Product Manager. It’s well known that starting a new position is utterly terrifying. Joining an already established team with a product they’ve been working on for years and know better than their own names, is just as challenging as it is exciting.
But there’s no need to worry. Going in with a plan and setting some goals for yourself will set you up for nothing but success…
Get to Know Your Team
a. “Shall we grab a coffee and catch up?”
The people around you already know everything you need to know. Take as many opportunities to learn from them in the early days as you can. Naturally, you will meet everyone in your first week, but try to schedule some one-on-one time with people in the departments you’ll be working with. It should be fairly easy to identify who has the information you need. This way you’ll get a very broad understanding of how each cog in the machine operates and how they view the product.
This is also an excellent opportunity to learn what the strengths and weaknesses of each department are, as well as learn of any weak points in the cross-departmental communication channels.
b. Communication and Infrastructure
Speaking of which, part of talking to people is establishing how everyone talks to each other. Which platforms are used for which conversations, where are the shared resources stored, does the workflow make sense, etc. If you’re able to break down silos and improve communication in your first few months you’ll hit the ground running!
If you’re part of a brand new team building a brand new product, you’ll have the opportunity to implement which tools and software you’d most like to use. If you’re stuck, we have a curated list of things every Product Manager needs in 2019.
2. Get to Know Your Product
Looking at the entire lifecycle will help you put everything into perspective. To know where to take the product in the future, you need to know what the story is so far. Every new position comes with a learning curve, and knowing the history of the product will greatly help you to understand where it’s at now.
b. Position in the industry
What’s the reputation of your company among others in the industry? How do you measure up against your main competitors? Maybe you’re not even sure who your main competitors are! Make it a priority to find out in the first 30 days, as it’s vital to keep an eye on the competition.
This is also where you’ll learn what sets your product apart from the rest, the USP that keeps your target market choosing you over others. Let this be one of your guiding stars as you help to drive the business forward.
c. Deep-dive into data
Find out what the numbers are. Profit and Loss will be a pretty important KPI in your new role, so data will be your new best friend. If you can, meet with another member of the product management team to go over the numbers with you, as they could help provide crucial context to demystify any outliers.
3. Get to Know Your Customer
a. Customer feedback
If you already have a backlog of reviews online, it’d be a good idea to sift through them and see what people are saying. This will give you a clear idea of what people love the most about your product, and what could be potential areas of improvement. If the product is fairly new and lacking extensive customer feedback, then you already have something on your to-do list as you begin moving forward in the role.
Meet with the marketing team to establish how the company is using its voice, and how people are responding. Look at all of the resources and platforms used, paying attention to the creative side of the campaigns (visuals, tone of voice, etc) as well as looking at the data. Ask to see the content calendar to understand what upcoming communications have already been planned, as well as looking back at what has been successfully done before.
Think of your first month as Stage One in your grand 30 60 90 plan. You’ve laid a solid foundation for your new role, and now it’s time to plan for the future. The key to success is preparation. So use what you’ve learned to create a plan for the next 30 days, and the next. Ask your colleagues what they would consider a priority. Not only will the information be useful to you, but it’ll show that you’re listening and value their input.
A word of advice…
You don’t have to know everything all at once. At this stage, it is better to have a broad understanding, including the information which is most vital to your role. Expertise will come with time. Listen and learn from your colleagues, ask questions no matter how silly they may seem (we’ve all been there) and most of all don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. You’ve got this!
Do you feel ready to take on the world of Product Management? The first thing you should do is join our Slack Channel and connect with your global PM tribe.