In one sentence, what advice would you give to a new product manager?


67 Replies

Connect and ally with your team. The more they succeed, the better the product.

Great advice Patrick. I think this is also true for most positions even non-PMs.

Completely Agree.

This is so true! As a developer myself, my fellow programmers used to feel left out almost all the time. They felt like machines whose sole job was to write code and fix bugs. There was hardly any programmer involved in decision making, creatives inputs, etc. Glad I left the company.

Love the problem, not the solution.

By that I mean don't get caught up on the cool new features and functionalities you are building. Rather really dig deep on what customer/business problems you are trying to solve.

Love this!

Talk to your customers, frequently.

Find an experienced product manager who is willing to be a friend and mentor.

Share successes and good customer feedback with the development team because they are often left out of the "attaboy" discussions.

I love this, great advice Austin.

I wholly agree with this Austin. If we brought them into more of the product success discussions, they would not only understand their value, but feel more connection and ownership of the product they are developing. I, personally, believe this leads to more innovation and better (scale-able) code with less unintentional technical debt from the dev teams.

Listen more than you speak, especially to your customers.

Learn to communicate effectively through the business, product, and engineering orgs.

I'm new to PM and think this is a big one!

If it's possible, use your own product every day.

It's all about constant and open communication.

So right Victor. It's more or less only about communication and updating/getting feedback from stakeholders within your company!

Track your work with quantifiable, concrete metrics to highlight the impact you've had on projects.

Be curious: ask questions and learn from others in all parts of the organization.

Stick to the "what" not the "how", be clear about the ask and trust the team to deliver it.

Great comment. I've been on product teams where the PM's were getting deep in the weeds and less focused on the customer, so we adjusted by having PM's focus on the What and the Why. The PO's and dev team focused on the How.

Listen to your clients and colleagues, distill what you heard into a strategy with goals and initiatives, and communicate your plan.

Continually learn the craftsmanship of writing—simple, articulate communication is one of the most powerful skills as a PM.

Lean on your strengths as you develop in weaker areas (for example, if you've spent time in services, you likely have a stronger than average understanding of how customers use your product.)

You will never know it all, learn what "knowing enough" is.

You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.

You're almost guaranteed to be pulled deep into tactical management of your job ( emails, fires, meetings, reviews, deliverables ). Create a habit to spend time each week to focus on strategic elements.

Read as many articles, blogs, and white papers as possible about the product management craft to learn, learn, learn.

Be curious and open. Inform and manage your stakeholders. Learn how to set priorities and learn to say NO. You are the product manager and you have the overall management responsibility for your product.

Look for networking groups in your area that cover this or similar topics (perhaps Agile or PDMA). Make connections and ask questions. Hear everyone out but decide what works for you and your organization.

Build relationships and a reputation for listening and learning with everyone in your product sphere of influence

Read the book Think First by Joe Natoli then we'll talk!

Seek out a good mentor. Most of what we learn as product folks we learn on the job and by surrounding ourselves with other great product folks.

Be authentic, be accountable, listen often, partner, drive a vision, measure change, communicate regularly and (most importantly) enjoy.

Beware of feature creep, lol.

Listen, learn and then act.

Don't be afraid to take the first few weeks to just learn about the product (if existing), the market, how things work within the organisation and where possible, build a network of go-to people for when you're stuck.

Stay curious and don't be afraid of asking why.

Understand what business problems the product is solving and find the nitty gritty of it.

Hey everyone, I made a short video highlighting the most liked answers from this question. https://youtu.be/EJpeemvOLac Check it out, would love feedback.

I agree with Patrick Mathews, connecting and making an ally out of the other teams is essential for new PM's.

Eric, this is so great! Thank you for creating and sharing.

Make data driven decisions and know your customer.

Always be curious, communicate early and often (internally and externally), be the voice of the customer (internally and externally ) and take financial stewardship into account when making decisions.

Talk to your users often to find the right problems to fix!

Avoid the trap of focusing on a roadmap of features. Your roadmap should be focused on the problems you are trying to solve.

Know your customers and how they use it + your product and how it works.

Just say no.

And get good at saying it nicely!

Ask everyone, "how can I make your job easier?" (or just "how can I help you?")

Make sure you know what problem you're trying to solve - validate that with customers, stakeholders and the execution team.

Know the change you want to bring to your users, before you know the solutions to bring it to them.

Research and measure in order to validate your ideas.

Respect the stakeholders knowledge and experience across the business, but NEVER forget the customer is at the heart of you product!

Don't assume anything.

A number of replies do highlight the importance of open communication. Which I completely agree is essential but with the added point of not making any assumptions during that communication between a PM and end users and engineers as it leads to bias, misinterpretation and potential issues down the line.

The same I give to every professional: Become a learning machine.

Everything else gets taken care of by that one act.

For hardware (e.g. HVAC Equipment), learn what the end users and contractors want to improve a product. Ask about the engineering "cuss" factor (if I had that @#$@# engineer, I would give them a piece of my mind) - find out what that is and design it out of the product.

Have Empathy for: Users, Team Members, Company, and Investors. This will give you the superpower to make better decisions.

Learn everything you can about your users' needs and then move on to your team. Find the gaps that you can fill best, with your product and as a team member.

Use it yourself, give the product to kids and family to retrieve feedback on the performance of your products.

Put your team before you, always helps in winning the team over. Once you have them half the battle is won

Keep yourself well organized, it will make managing multiple facets of PM responsibilities easy and enjoyable!

Talk with your customers. They are your main audience.

Product Management is one of those disciplines that can vary a lot from company to company, or person to person. This is because there are several aspects of product management that are subjective, and require judgement calls. However, what separates good product managers from great ones is their ability to ground their opinions, assumptions and decisions in data, and have some structure or framework in place to ensure that everything that needs attention is receiving it. With so many moving parts to account for as a product manager, things can get overwhelming and chaotic when you don’t stay organized, so it is very important to have a process in place.

As a consummate conscious ecosystem strategist in the past for HP and other tech leaders: Find folks like myself that blend systems thinking, creativity and who understand how to best create relevance, trust, credibility plus both employee, market and influencer inclusion, as that attention was the key reason all our product launches and programs earned the highest regard and revenue growth in HP history.

A product manager’s value to the organization comes from his/her knowledge of the market and customer; be an expert on market problems and trust your team to create the best solutions.

Align your project team and company to thoroughly understand/define the customer needs and applications of your products, with frequent, quick customer checks to confirm development progress. Ready, Aim, Fire..... not Ready, Fire, Aim.

Create a reliable product creation process that will help you be in control of every aspect of your job.

This might be helpful, it's resource for product managers I've just published: https://medium.com/infinitypm/the-practical-product-management-framework-for-saas-with-templates-11cff9e8fd4b