When starting to work on a new product, some less experienced product managers might be too eager to prove themselves. They want to set the tone and course for everyone involved in the process of building and shipping the product.
But a seasoned PM understands the importance of drawing on the knowledge of those already familiar with the product. Within an organization, each team offers a distinct viewpoint based on its expertise.
Engineers, for instance, can help clarify how the underlying systems operate behind the front. Designers emphasize the importance of a user-centered approach. Analysts help uncover new insights within the data. And salespeople bring forward insights about what truly resonates in the market space.
Therefore, besides their own perspective and external inputs like competitive products, a PM should always give special attention to the expectations and insights of other teams.
Todd Lee Loy, a digital product executive, spoke with leaders from the design, engineering, analytics, and Go-To-Market teams to unveil exactly what they expect from a newly hired PM in their first 90 days on the job and why it’s important for the future success of the product and the PM.
Many thanks to these experts for the perspectives they shared with us:
- Joe Munoz (Director of Software Engineering at The Walt Disney Company / Co-Creator at Tinder)
- Nick Crocco (Creative Director, formerly of Amazon, clients include Meta, Universal Studios+)
- Eric Fader (SVP Analytics at Mediahub Worldwide )
- Scott Terrizzi (Digital Sales Leader at Hibu)
Teams’ expectations of a new product manager
Product managers rely heavily on the expertise of design, engineering, sales, and analytics teams. Designers ensure user-friendly aesthetics, engineers provide technical solutions, and the sales team offers market feedback. Meanwhile, the analytics department offers data-driven insights to guide decisions. Together, these teams help product managers align strategies with user needs and business goals
To shed light on the nuances of being set up for success in these early days, we’ve engaged leaders from various disciplines. Their insights aim to guide new PMs during this pivotal phase.
What the engineering team expects from a PM
Joe Munoz, Director of Software Engineering at The Walt Disney Company / Co-Creator at Tinder
I think the main thing I want from a product manager is first to understand the product inside and out, and then to develop a high-level understanding of all the systems that the engineering team manages as they relate to the product. Once they have that, I’d like for them to understand the software development process of the team:
- What tools do they use?
- What methodology?
- What cadence?
- What is their expectation of how the product should operate within those tools and processes?
I would also hope that they solicit feedback from the team as to how Product has worked successfully in the past and what they can do to work with the team more effectively.
So, by the end of 30 days, I expect the PM to know the product, the processes and systems, and how work gets done.
At the end of 60 days, I expect them to have started working closely with the engineering team and helping to deliver already planned projects.
At the end of 90 days, I would hope they would have a roadmap for the next couple of quarters that aligns with the organization’s strategic objectives and includes hypotheses to be tested.
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What the creative team expects from a PM
Nick Crocco, Creative Director, formerly of Amazon, clients include Meta, Universal Studios+
UX leaders expect new product managers to prioritize a user-centered approach, collaborate effectively with the UX team in developing a perspective that informs the product vision, establish a feedback loop, and demonstrate empathy for users in their first 90 days.
A new product manager can start by actively listening and learning from the team, reviewing existing research and designs, prioritizing and participating in future user research, and organizing collaborative workshops with UX professionals. They should communicate their vision and goals clearly, involve UX experts early in the product development process, and provide the necessary support and resources.
Regular check-ins and a feedback loop should be established to foster ongoing collaboration and mutual learning. This ultimately leads to better products that prioritize user needs.
What the analytics team expects from a PM
Eric Fader, SVP Analytics at Mediahub Worldwide
Analytics teams are a valuable resource for product managers, so it’s important to build a strong relationship with them. This means being open to their feedback, being willing to learn from them, and being respectful of their expertise. I expect new PMs to meet early and often with the analytics team to learn about their work and the data they collect.
Good product managers immerse themselves in the data and ask the right questions. This includes understanding the different metrics used to measure product success, as well as the different ways the data can be analyzed. The analytics team can help product managers answer important questions, but in order to get the most out of the data, product managers need to be clear about what they’re trying to learn and to be specific about the data they need. It’s important to collaborate with the analytics team to solicit ideas and to develop and test hypotheses that potentially have the highest impact on business outcomes
The best product managers act on the data. The analytics team can provide insights, but it’s up to the product manager to actually use the data to make decisions. This means being willing to challenge the status quo and being open to changing course if the data shows that it’s necessary.
What the sales team expects from a PM
Scott Terrizi, Digital Sales Leader at Hibu
From my experience, the most impactful new product managers enter an organization with just as much curiosity as knowledge. It is hard for many people to follow a “know it all” and they are considered to be “out of touch.” That’s a recipe for disaster. It is OK for a new PM to have a solid idea of a direction based on their experience or competitive assessments, but, to achieve real success, people within the organization, particularly salespeople, have to be bought in, they need to feel heard and to be a part of the process.
Salespeople typically have an informed opinion on what works in the market space. They know what is good about the current product and what can be improved because they talk to customers and sell against competitors every day.
In the first 90 days, I recommend that a PM speak with sales leaders to identify the most valuable people to hear from (top performers, new sales reps, sales managers) and schedule some time with them. If you can do that in person, that is ideal. I recommend getting out, going in the field, and visiting customers.
If a PM enters the organization with an authentically curious mind and asks questions, they will likely get more information and insight than they bargained for. And if they credit these insights to the field, and include feedback in the product roadmap, they will achieve buy-in and drive results.
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The early days of a PM’s journey in an organization set the tone for future collaborations. By establishing strong rapport and understanding the intricacies of each department, a PM can more effectively channel their insights into the development process. It’s not just about collecting feedback but understanding the “why” behind it.
Therefore, in the initial days, a PM should prioritize listening and asking questions. By understanding the needs, strengths, and challenges of each team, the PM ensures that they are seen not just as a decision-maker, but also as an ally and collaborator.
Illustration by Anna Golde for GoPractice