Congratulations on landing a new Platform Product Manager role. Now that you have joined, how do you set yourself up for success? This series of blog posts will dive into various strategies you can employ to make a soft landing, onboard efficiently, and prepare yourself for ultimately leading key product initiatives. We will begin with strategies to build key relationships early on. Take advantage of the goodwill you will receive as the new team member and spend the time to forge relationships with future allies. Make sure to consider all of the departments with whom you will interface.
Become a Student Again
As you onboard into your new role, it is critical to embrace a learning attitude. The first thirty days of your 30-60-90 day onboarding plan should be focused on learning. This goal can be approached in a variety of ways including absorbing documentation, shadowing on meetings, and one-on-one discussions with stakeholders you will work with. By bringing a learner’s mindset, you let go of biases from your past experiences. You listen attentively to your audience and ask questions out of genuine curiosity. Your audience will appreciate the sincere interest you are taking to hear their perspective.
A helpful structure for your one-on-one conversations is the Cold Start Algorithm. In essence, this framework enables open dialogue with the stakeholder you are speaking to by inviting them to tell you everything they think you should know. From there the conversation hones in on the biggest challenges from your stakeholder’s perspective and advice on who else they think you should speak to. Keep track of the recommended colleagues to speak to across your conversations and look for trends to identify key personnel within the organization. Be sure to take notes and keep them organized for future reference.
Find Your Allies
As you develop a clearer picture of your stakeholder map and their unique culture, take note of inroads to build deeper relationships. This could be with personal interests you have in common or stakeholder challenges that you can potentially help with after your onboarding. Next, identify the colleagues that you can convert into allies. These relationships will be essential ingredients for success in delivering value through the features and products you manage.
Another crucial pool of allies will come from those that are outside of your organization. Learning from peers who are encountering similar challenges at other companies is incredibly helpful. You can meet others in the field through Products That Count chapters and events. Additionally, you can join a cohort of Product Managers in a program such as the Intentional Product Manager Tribe where members meet regularly to share wins, trade notes on best practices, and learn from experienced product management coaches. Be sure to also invest the time to find a seasoned mentor to help you chart your product journey. One helpful resource for this is Plato HQ.
Synthesize Your Learning
Now that you have collated all of these learnings, how do you compile them in an impactful way? To start, take the time after each one-on-one meeting to reflect and summarize the key points. Then transform the insights from your conversations into a valuable artifact: the State of the Union. “A state of the union creates a shared ground truth that the team can use to find a path forward,” says Will Lawrence. “It also helps clarify your understanding of the space and spark healthy conversation about the team’s state.”
This powerful asset will help those you share it with also learn from your cross-functional interviews. It will also highlight your point of view and set the stage for impactful conversations with your team and stakeholders.
In my next column, I’ll discuss more strategies to help you on your way to leading key product initiatives in your new role as Platform Product Manager. Start building key relationships today to lay a strong foundation for your (and the company’s) success.
About the speaker
Bharat Manglani is a Product Manager at ZEFR, which focuses on powering the age of responsible marketing. He started his career with 10 years as a technology strategy consultant and then pivoted into the technology sector to pursue his passion for managing the end-to-end product lifecycle. In his prior role at HUMAN (formerly White Ops), he managed the customer facing portal which empowers users to mitigate sophisticated fraud across their advertising, marketing and application ecosystems.