Oh boy. I remember those days.
I had just landed my first “real” product job. I’d had a few early breaks in my career , but still plenty of gaping holes in my resume!
I had never worked with a dev team. I never worked on a large-scale software product. I had never even had a traditional product management role.
And I survived. Not without a few scars.
Here is what I learned:
Reality check – Let’s face it. If you’re a new PM, then you don’t have experience to lean on. What you probably do have is raw intellect, ability to learn quickly, and lots of promise. You know that and others will figure that out soon enough.
Focus on the work, not your inexperience – Try to focus on the outcome. You’re here to build a product that customers love and that generates revenue. Focus on that. Most people will rally behind this and forgive your inexperience.
Side note: I love the book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It explores the way creative work frequently exposes our weakness and how to work through that.
Find a good approach, don’t worry about perfect – I’ve found that there are many paths to an outcome. True there are better and worse paths, but still there are several viable paths. Pick something and go with it. Don’t fret over the “right way”.
Failure and Feedback – Both hurt. But there’s not faster way to learn. Embrace them.
Curiosity typically helps, not hurts – When I started out I had very little technical background in software development. So I started asking lots of questions of my team. I showed an interest in their craft and the helped me learn the ropes. I’ve very rarely been hurt by exposing my ignorance and asking someone about their expertise.
Find a mentor – I’m sorry! Its so cliche. But its a must in the world of product. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can figure the job out yourself. Product is a nuanced role and you need someone who has been in the trenches and can provide valuable guidance.
I wish you the best in your new role! Hang in there. In a few years you’ll no longer be the new PM on the team.