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I remember once starting a product manager job where it took me two hours to establish where my desk was. It took me that time to break the protracted conversation between my well-intentioned manager and two colleagues.
When I eventually found my desk, I had to resort to stealing paper from printers to take down the notes about what my product was (conclusion: not entirely clear), what my purpose was (conclusion: look busy, make yourself useful) and what people expected of me (conclusion: ????).
On the plus side, I gained a valuable insight into how NOT to manage a new starter. Fast forward a few years and here I am with a new product manager about to join my team. Here are three basic lessons I’ve learned, so that hopefully you won’t be the subject of a similar blog post some time down the line.
1. Convey ‘organised’, not ‘shambles’
If the first impression a new starter gains of his new place of employment is “WTF???” then you’re probably off to a poor start. Get the basics right on day one, such as:
- people being aware that someone new is starting and what they’ll be doing;
- make yourself (the manager) available all day;
- clean, empty desk;
- computer present and correctly set up + clean or new mouse and keyboard;
- phone present and working + guide to accessing voicemail, transferring calls, 3-way calls etc.;
- login credentials available; and
- a couple of pens and a notepad.
If your company provides a starter pack, even better. It gives your new starter something to stare at while they let the flames on their head die down mid-way through day one.
2. Role applied for = role expected to fulfil
I’ve been in the awkward position where I turned up on day one and everyone has a clear idea of what I was going to be doing.
Unfortunately, this appeared to be quite different from the job I had agreed to do.
This is not particularly pleasant for a new starter as they’ll either end up disappointing everyone they meet, or they’ll knuckle down and do the wrong job until they find somewhere else that is the right job.
3. “What do you want me to do?”
I’m kinda hoping that you’ve recruited someone for a good reason. If you don’t have a clear idea of what this person will be doing, what you want them to achieve and how you recognise that they’ve achieved it, then you might as well let them do your job. They’ve probably got more of a clue than you do.
There’s much more to this story.
Tell you what, I’ll leave this here and come back soon with some more top tips. Bite-size chunks of information and all that.
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Live, conference-style talks with Q&A each Tuesday in October 2020, covering:
- What does a product manager do (and not do)?
- Understanding user needs
- The secrets of meaningful product roadmaps
- Landing and starting your product manager job
See you there!