Question: What are good goals for a new product manager?
We are hiring a new product manager. What would be some realistic goals to expect for the first 30, 60, and 90 days for this person? The candidate is new to this industry but has prior product management experience.
Answer from Michael Hopkin of Lead on Purpose: First of all, congratulations on hiring a new product manager! When a company invests in building out its product management / marketing team, it will reap the rewards.
We all know the first 30 days at a new company are filled with paperwork and discovery. Bigger companies usually have some form of a new employee orientation plan that helps the person get up to speed. A few realistic goals for a new PM in her or his first 30 days might include the following:
- Know the ins and outs of HR: Get the benefits paperwork filled out, signed and out of your hair.
- Know the IT guys: There will no doubt be hiccups in getting your equipment configured, applications installed and understanding how to navigate the company Intranet.
- Know your team: Meet all the members of the teams you will be working with, know their names and give them a chance to know you. Spend time with them. Don’t worry about knowing everything about what they do, but get to know the people. People are assets.
These goals might be better assigned to the hiring manager. The manager can help the new PM get a good start by getting him or her get plugged in to the company.
Within 60 days the new PM will have had enough time to get comfortable with the company and understand where she or he fits in. The second 30 days will be valuable for getting up to speed on the product and the new industry. Relevant goals for this period include:
- Know the industry: Spend at least ten hours a week reading and understanding the industry. Google Alerts work great for this. Charge the new PM with sending out information to the team. This will not only force the new PM to know the industry but will also make him or her accountable to the team.
- Know the products: This goes without saying, but the PM must know the products he or she owns. In my current company we have created an exam that tests the employees on their knowledge of the products. The employees have MBOs on how quickly they need to pass the test and by what percentage they must pass it. Some have merit increases tied to their scores.
- Get appropriate training: The new PM needs to receive training on the company and the products. If the PM has not received specific training in product management, I highly recommend it. When I started a new job five years ago I spent the first three days at a Pragmatic Marketing training seminar. To this day I can still identify things which I learned in that training which have helped my career.
When considering setting 90-day goals, you may want to consider more long-term goals. Not too changes between 60 and 90 days, but a lot happens (or should happen) within the first six months and the first year. I recommend you set six-month and one-year goals (or MBOs). Jeff Lash wrote an excellent post answering a similar questions about goals for product managers. He said:
I think product managers should have a small set of appropriate metrics that align with the larger company goals. If your company is small and growing, you may want to focus on revenue growth and customer adoption. If you are large and in a very competitive market, measuring profitability and margins may be more appropriate.
He goes on to list four baseline goals which I recommend for your review.
Hiring a new product manager is an important step in the growth and success of a company. Hiring the right person is critical. Helping him or her get off on the right foot is critical. Spend time setting sound goals and objectives that will help him or her quickly start to add value to the company. It will benefit you as the hiring manager as well as the new PM.