10 Things to do at a new company Leading a Product Management Team
Congratulations on your new job. I hope you are motivated because you have a lot of work ahead of you. The first 30 days in a new company are an important foundation for making a positive impression and gaining confidence for your future activities.
Here are my top 10 topics for the first 30 days:
1. Talk to your boss and key people in the company
A quick initial consultation with your own manager is a must. Ask what issues are currently critical, difficult, or burning. It’s also important to understand the power structures in the company. Find out who the key stakeholders are and talk to them as early as possible. Listen to what they worry about, want, and focus on at the present time.
2. Understand the vision and strategy (or what is replacing them)
Check what the (product) vision and (product) strategy are, or what replaces them if they do not exist. Question the logic and find out if it guides the behavior of the team or if it remains theory. Check if this is also true for the other areas or if it is different.
3. Analyze the Status Quo of the Current Product Portfolio
From all the interviews, try to determine the current situation of the different products. What product lifecycle are they in? How successful are they based on existing product and economic metrics? What is the competitive landscape? What are the known issues? How would you rate the support effort or technical debt?
4. Analyze the status quo of the product management team.
Conduct at least two 1:1s with all of your directs. One at the beginning and one after you have built up more knowledge. Build trust and listen to what they say in response to your open questions. Find out what the team’s challenges are and how critical they are. Explain your approach, leadership style, and initial expectations. Create a safe space for open discussion and a positive culture that allows failure to happen. Hold an initial small team meeting as soon as possible to get to know each other personally.
5. Analyze goals, metrics, priorities, and the roadmap process
Analyze how goals or metrics influence team priorities and decisions, or how these decisions are made differently. Understand how the current roadmap process is executed and how well all of these fit together.
6. Analyze the product development process and the level of collaboration
Analyze the entire product development process — from ideation to delivery. This should include all processes, including testing, deployment, and support. Question any decisions and processes that you don’t clearly understand, and analyze whether the answers are satisfactory. Analyze the composition of the teams and how well they collaborate. Understand where each team stands in terms of maturity. Make your own assessment of the two teams at the edge of the spectrum.
7. Do your own initial product, market, and competitive analysis
Test the products yourself. Conduct your own market and competitive analysis, at least for the most important products. Explore the main business models. Try to understand the specifics of the market. Try to understand the needs of the core customer group. If possible, try to talk directly to some customers. Look at the available financials. Review the available metrics or other relevant measured KPIs. Challenge anything you don’t understand.
8. Identify quick wins as early confidence-building activities
Big decisions and game-changers typically require time and in-depth analysis. To avoid being perceived as inactive, start with a few quick wins. To do this, ask everyone at the first meeting the following questions
- What should stay the same in product management?
- What should definitely change in product management?
If there is a high level of agreement on desired changes, this creates an area for action, at least for less complex issues.
9. Identify 3 key topics with high impact
Within the first 30 days, you should know which 3 key topics you want to tackle next. These should be high-value topics, but not ones where you can get burned quickly (e.g., restructuring the organization).
10. Before executing, validate key initiatives with your manager and key stakeholder
In the beginning, it is easy to get into trouble due to lack of information. Therefore, it is advisable to validate the first significant decisions and measures in advance in one-on-one meetings with your own manager or other affected stakeholders. This is not a sign of weakness, but shows that you are managing the risk of making unforeseen mistakes.
I wish you success and good luck.