How do you train PMs?

For those who manage PMs-How do you help your product managers develop and become better? Are there any best practices?


Here are a few points that might help:

  1. Identify their strengths and the value they bring (to bolster their confidence).
  2. Flag alternate and potentially gentler ways of doing things (to give them alternate paths).
  3. Coach them on negotiations.
  4. Review their roadmaps and product strategy, ask why why why why why to ensure they are on the right path.
  5. Unblock blockers and act as an escalation point.
  6. Support them to be the best damn product people they can be, and help them avoid mistakes I’ve made and seen.
  7. Keep an eye out for potential product talent. It’s a high movement role.
  8. Try and give them the freedom and landscape to make their own product decisions and take risks (challenged with high expectations) but still supported. Fail fast fail often.

The above is all 2 way.

And definitely keep leading by example. Do group exercises cross functionally and work with them. Make sure you show them how to get better baby step by baby step because that’s how you do it. Then push them to do it on their own and catch them when they stumble.

My biggest insight here is that developing PM’s is one of the least “repeatable” things you can do. Every PM in every situation is totally different. one of my favorite things about this job is that every case is a completely new puzzle. the most important thing I learned was ignoring my imposter syndrome and accepting that you never quite develop a “system”.

Noodling on this a little more, I do have a couple of go-to techniques.

  1. 1:1 calls. The jr employee sets the agenda, and the purpose of the call is to leverage the sr employees resources to solve a problem they can’t seem to solve themselves.
  2. Bullshit filter. PM’s have a habit of getting really cute with academic shit. Don’t let them do this.
  3. always keep the bar juuuust over what they can do. PM’s reliably get bored with wrote/repetitive shit. push them to do just slightly more than they think they can, and be quick to react and reset that bar.

Everyone is different.

You should be having weekly one-on-ones where they set only 75% of the agenda. Every time they complete a deliverable, you should send them a few bullet points of feedback. When they have a huge deliverable, you should make yourself available to help prep, be a simulated audience, give early feedback. You should give them quarterly career chats. You should ALWAYS have constructive feedback for them. You can offer them more senior mentors than even yourself! So many good strategies.

But the biggest thing is to give them opportunities that make yourself uncomfortable. Things they’ve never done before, that are HARD. Then let them rise to the challenge and give them that support network above so they can succeed. They’ll learn on their own pretty effectively— you’ll be surprised.