The company I work for is expanding very rapidly, therefore as the first Product Manager, I have been tasked with finding other PMs and starting a suitable training program for them. How, is the question.
Given that we already have a Program Management Office and that a Product Management Office would just serve to create more confusion, I first want experienced PMs to advise me on what would actually be the proper word.
Second, I’d like any PM to advise me on the qualities that make a candidate for the position excellent. Although I am a fully autonomous hiring and budgeting authority, I have no more than six months of experience as a project manager. I’m most concerned that if I hire someone with a lot more experience than me, it would hurt my own career.
I can provide some general guidance to your questions.
Firstly, in terms of the right term, it would depend on the organization’s structure and culture. Some companies may use “Product Manager” and “Program Manager” interchangeably, while others may differentiate the two roles based on their scope and responsibilities. If your organization already has a Program Management Office, it might be worth discussing with your supervisor or HR department to find the best terminology that aligns with your company’s practices.
Secondly, when hiring PMs, it’s essential to look for individuals who possess both technical and business acumen, as well as strong communication and leadership skills. Some key qualities to look for include:
Product domain expertise: Candidates who have experience in the industry or domain you operate in will have a better understanding of the customer’s needs and market trends.
Strategic thinking: Look for candidates who can analyze market trends, competition, and customer insights to develop long-term product strategies.
Strong communication skills: PMs need to be able to articulate their vision, ideas, and priorities to cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and customers effectively.
Leadership: PMs should be able to lead their teams and collaborate with different departments to deliver successful products.
Analytical skills: Candidates who can use data to make informed decisions, evaluate risks and opportunities, and measure the success of their products are valuable.
Lastly, hiring someone more experienced than you should not jeopardize your career. In fact, hiring experienced individuals can bring new perspectives, insights, and mentorship to your team. As the first PM, you have a critical role in building a strong product culture and hiring a team that aligns with the company’s vision and goals. You can learn from your team members, and they can learn from you, creating a positive feedback loop that benefits the entire organization.
@JonathanTessa, you should focus more on doing what is right for the organization. Don’t just hire people who are less experienced than you - that’s how to fail. You’re trying to build something. Your success is dependent on you hiring smart people. A good manager hires people who have skills that they do not have. A bad manager tries to be the best at everything by hiring the worst.
It’s natural to be worried about someone, nor only being more knowledgeable, but overshadowing you and usurping your position.
However, the best comment imo here, is to find people who will be mentors and team players. You’re the coach. You draft players and some will be a better player than you, but you’re the one who brings them all together. You’re laying a foundation that can propel the company forward and allow you to be the best department lead you can be. Both in terms of product management and as a “people” manager.
Focus on those who have genuine mentoring/coaching ability and humility. Yes, it might prove to be a long road, but that’s were those 1:1s come into play. As a comment said, spend 50% of your time on it.
As a new manager, I was pushed to build my team in a rush. Picked a few people because the paper said that they were good, instead of going with my intuition on the person in front of me. And, regretted hiring them. Then double regretted not letting them go when they proved to be exactly what my gut tried to tell me during the interview.
I also hired someone who had 3 years of management experience, where I had 1 month. Best hire I had. Personally, I wasn’t worried about him out shining me, since I already felt “safe” in my role. I think that plays a huge part in how we handle feedback and someone else’s success.
Even when we disagreed or when I had to provide corrections, he continued to respect me and I him. And I did everything in my power to ensure he had the training and knowledge he needed to succeed at the company. So when I left, he could take up the mantle and continue where I left off, as well as make it his own.
Moral of the story:
practice having trust that you earned where you’re at.
That the person you’re hiring is not just for the company, but for your growth as well.
Tip: If you feel during the interview that you’ll constantly have to assert your headship/authority with that person, pass on them no matter how good they they are. (I once interviewed a guy who would only look and answer the male in the room and repeatedly interrupted me. Cue rolling of eyes…)
Haven’t really heard of Product Management Office and kind of struggling to understand the problem here. Product Management department will do as well as any other naming.
Curious situation to be in. Managing PMs and being a PM are completely different. Managing PMs means unblocking the potential as well as doing strategy work.
Hard skills and culture fit are broadly two main categories. If you have 6 months as a PM, you’ll have some trouble assessing hard skills. Not sure what you could do, but you may want to try reading books such as ‘Conquer the PM interview’ just to see how those skills are checked. Pro-tip: don’t do it the way FAANG does it, you are not FAANG, just get some idea of what and how is being checked.
Do you worry that hiring someone more qualified than you will kill your career? As a manager, I make it a point to hire the most intelligent candidates with the most relevant expertise.
What’s going on today in your program management office? What is the identified requirement for expanding product management? the same as fixing any product issue.
Programs are generally seen by me as a collection of projects. In order to coordinate various products with the same release date and manage related deliverables with other departments like training, sales, and marketing, you might establish a program or project for each customer configuration or deployment. In order to properly construct the job descriptions and expectations, you need establish that distinct separation right away.
@AnushkaGarg, The recognised need is that we are moving from the Solutions side to the Products side. We need to innovate quickly and work on 5–10 new products at once, however product managers are needed to represent the interests of the consumers and oversee backlogs and sprints.
In order to train the Product Managers in Scrum, I’m considering involving the Program Management Office. I’ll have to impart my own fundamental product knowledge to the Product Managers.
It sounds like you have a clear understanding of the need for product managers to help manage the development of multiple products simultaneously. Involving the Program Management Office in training the product managers in Scrum is a good idea, as Scrum is a popular agile framework used in product development.
You mentioned that you will have to teach the product managers core product skills yourself. To do so effectively, you may want to consider creating a structured training program that covers key areas such as product strategy, market research, user experience design, and product development methodologies. Additionally, you may want to provide resources for ongoing learning, such as industry blogs, webinars, and online courses.
In terms of hiring product managers, it’s important to look for individuals who have experience in product development and have a track record of success in delivering products. You may also want to consider hiring individuals who have worked on multiple products simultaneously, as this experience can be valuable in your organization’s context. Additionally, you may want to look for individuals who have strong communication skills and can work effectively with cross-functional teams.
Overall, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the skills and expertise you need from your product managers and to invest in their development and training to help them succeed in their roles.
You are correct that a product is a type of solution. However, in a business context, there can be a distinction between offering “solutions” versus offering “products.”
A “solution” typically refers to a customized set of services or software that is designed to solve a specific problem for a client or customer. Solutions are often tailored to the specific needs of a particular customer or client and may require extensive customization or consultation. Solutions are usually sold on a one-off basis and may not have a clear roadmap or development plan beyond the immediate customer need.
On the other hand, a “product” typically refers to a standardized offering that is designed to meet the needs of a broader market. Products are often developed with a specific user or customer segment in mind and are intended to be sold repeatedly over time. Products are typically developed with a clear roadmap and development plan and may involve ongoing updates, improvements, and new features.
In the context of your organization, it sounds like you are expanding from offering customized solutions to offering standardized products. This shift will likely require a different approach to product development and management. As a product manager, you will need to develop a deep understanding of your target market and user needs, define a clear product vision and strategy, and work with cross-functional teams to develop and launch products that meet market demand.
Whilst I’m not usually a huge supporter of consultants and recruiters, your business should certainly hire a search firm to handle this. Although I’m sure you’ve learned a lot in your six months as a PM, there is no way I could have hired competent PMs, much less a product leader, at that point in my tenure.
In addition, my employer is a vice president and 10 years my junior. I was employed to address the holes that both the employer and he were aware he had. You MUST employ someone with greater experience than you!
Thank you for your perspective. While outsourcing to a search firm can be a good option for some organizations, it’s important to consider the cost and potential impact on organizational culture and values. As an internal product manager, you have a unique understanding of your organization’s needs, values, and culture, which can be important factors in hiring the right candidates. However, it’s also important to recognize your limitations and seek support and guidance when needed.
As for hiring someone more experienced than yourself, I agree that it’s important to prioritize experience and expertise when recruiting for product management roles. It’s not uncommon for younger or less experienced product managers to be leading product efforts in organizations, but it’s important to recognize when more experienced talent is needed and to seek it out. It’s important to have a growth mindset and be open to learning from more experienced colleagues while also bringing your own unique perspective and skills to the table.