The first 30 days in any new role hosts a multitude of learning curves and challenges. Product Managers need to establish themselves early—within 30 days in a new role—by demonstrating their value to their new organization.
The onus will be placed squarely on the newly acquired talent to navigate their new terrain and hit the ground running—there won’t be much in the way of handholding through the steps.
The first 30 days in the new role will determine which end of the spectrum Product Managers will end up on: success or struggle.
Ken Norton is a product partner at Google Ventures where he advises startups on product management: he breaks down the 3 main pillars of focus: People, Product and Personal. For product managers starting in new roles, it's good practice to focus on these elements within the first 30 days.
Level-set from day 1
No matter the role – it’s important to level set with your CEO or manager from day 1 on what your responsibilities are, what is expected of you and what the specific targeted objectives are to organizational and personal success. All parties need to be on the same page to avoid misunderstanding when it comes time for performance reviews.
Norton also suggests setting up one-on-one meetings with everyone on your team within the first 30 days. Taking the time to personally meet with each of them allows for a connection to forge and to align visions.
I prefer walking one-on-ones – there’s something focusing and invigorating about walking together and looking ahead as opposed to staring at each other across from a conference room table.
Ask: “What can I do to make your life easier?”
Norton suggests asking these 9 simple words – “What can I do to make your life easier?” This profound statement demonstrates your ability to help everyone, how you can alleviate any pent-up stress, boost productivity and that you aren’t here to take a position of authority over anyone.
You’ll get a true indication for how they perceive the PM role, and what they need from you.
Schedule time with engineering
Product Managers are hybrid in nature with their level of technical and business acumen. It would be wise to make time within the first 30 days to sit down with the lead engineer and go over in detail everything to be properly brought up to speed.
Norton also suggests not falling for the timeless trap of wanting to immediately jump in and change something. Let the ideas and creativity build for the first month until you’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of their developmental process. Once you’ve absorbed their pain points and built clout within the team—then you can begin to share your thoughts.
Set personal goals and absorb knowledge within the first 30 days
A shift between jobs offers a fresh start and a clean slate to revamp your personal goals. Take the time to write down what it is you would like to personally accomplish and the numbered steps it will take to achieve your goals. What is it you would like to improve on, what areas do you specialize in and how will these be measurable and attainable?
Norton also insists to read anything and everything – “old OKRs, specs, design documents, wiki pages.” Within 30 days, take the time to learn about your competition, set up alerts revolving around your industry, competitors and product. Remember: you are never done learning.
Bringing on this “mini-CEO” will reverberate throughout your organization – so make sure you methodically take the time to plan for this hybrid role.
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