The first 90 days as a new Product Manager in any size organization is often referred to as “drinking from a firehose.” And in most cases, it is true. You must learn the new product, find and connect with all the stakeholders, and evolve your understanding of the market landscape. And the list goes on. All of this can feel very overwhelming.
Over the years, plenty of (aspiring and experienced) Product Managers have asked me, “I joined [Company Name] as a Product Manager. What do you think are some key things to accomplish in my first 3 months?“
You are in a new job. You are anxious to make a mark. You want to deliver value quickly. You want to be seen as a trustworthy collaborator. You want to be your product’s go-to person, a thought leader. For any (and all) of that to happen, you must ensure that you spend the first 90 days judiciously.
Key things to focus on in the first 90-days as a Product Manager
1. Product: Get maniacal about using and understanding the product.
- Install/deploy/use the product leveraging existing documentation.
- Document your experience – no detail is too small.
- Go beyond the typical use cases, and understand how it works “under the hood.”
- Identify and learn the key metrics (KPIs) used to track success.
- Understand current product placement against competitors and the overall market.
Action: Carve out up to 2 hours daily for the first four weeks to interact with the product hands-on.
2. People: Learn about and meet the team members
- You must identify all the key stakeholders and quickly meet with as many as possible. Do not ignore any function. A cross-functional view of the product offering is crucial for a holistic viewpoint.
- Listen more. Ask open-ended questions and practice active listening. You will learn a ton about the product, the team dynamics, and more. These conversations are an excellent place to “test your knowledge” based on your experience of the product.
- In the remote-first world, offer to meet at a time that’s convenient for them.
- Whatever else you do, steer away from
- passing judgment on people, teams, or product
- get entangled in office politics
- Get a strong understanding of your manager’s expectations and communication preferences, and set a regular check-in.
Action: Make it a point not to eat your lunch alone in the first 90 days.
3. Process: Get a solid grip before you start to swing
- Prepare a list of tools and processes being used by the team.
- For every function you meet, ask them how they communicate with the PMs.
- Figure out all the meetings and forums (internal and external) you need to attend.
- Figure out how the Product team interacts with customers and other functions (ex: Engineering, Design, Sales, Customer Success, Support, Marketing, etc.)
Action: Document your understanding of where the process could be improved.
Product Management is a cross-functional leadership role. You must learn to channel your anxiety into curiosity. The only way to drive our discomfort of not knowing is to learn. And your team members are there to help you learn as fast as you want. The goal in your first 90 days is not to know everything and be an expert but to become an integral part of the team. Know that the first 90 days are crucial and that experience won’t return. Make them count, and do not forget to have fun!
- The First 90 days by Michael Watkins. Excellent book for everyone to get a strong foothold in a new organization.