Best Practices

Your First 30 Days as a Product Manager

Congratulations! You have landed a new PM job. It probably took a ton of preparation, multiple informational sessions, and many rounds of interviews to make it here. You are pumped to take the next big steps: meeting new colleagues, broadening your horizons, and making an impact.

Be it at a big corporation or a small startup, the first 30 days in a new job sets the foundation for what’s to come. It’s a critical month when you are typically net negative in terms of adding value, and the hiring manager, the team, and everyone else are investing in setting you up for long-term success.

I started my new product manager job at Google just before the holidays last year. The world has changed a lot since then, and when I look back, I feel lucky. After all, I got to meet my team in person before we went fully remote. Many product managers across the world starting now don’t have the luxury of meeting their teams in-person. In fact, some expected to start in-person roles, then suddenly found themselves working remotely. And ramp-up can be daunting for a collaborative and central role like product management.

In this article, I wanted to share a few tips that worked well for me as I started my new PM position. To optimize your impact, I would break down the first 30-day period into three segments:

  1. Your job 
  2. Your mindset
  3. Your output

Let’s go through each of these in turn.

Your job

Your job in the first 30 days as a PM is to ask questions. Period. During your first 30 days, you are literally being paid to learn, and it is your prime responsibility to do so flawlessly. From naive-sounding questions like “What does this commonly-used acronym mean?” to nitty-gritty technical questions about how the product works, everything is fair game. Before your first month on the job is up, you’ll want to be familiar with the overall product vision and get an understanding of the “whys” behind past decisions. Never be shy or afraid to ask questions, especially early on. Genuine curiosity will take you far.

Your mindset

For the first 30 days, you should focus your mindset on building trust with your new colleagues. No matter your specific role, establishing trust is a useful skill. Also, it’s particularly important when you are starting something new. Asking questions (your job!), along with being earnest and respectful to your new team members, lay a good foundation. In addition, you can make use of a few helpful tactics to accelerate the trust-building process.

First, come prepared for your initial meetings, even if it’s your first 1:1. Doing some general research and being organized shows you have invested time and thought into the interaction. Second, if you have any previous connections (same ex-companies, industries, or colleagues), bring them up. People tend to connect with their past experiences as a validation of their own choices. Plus, having common ground creates a great bridge for the work ahead. Third, be vocally and genuinely appreciative of the other person’s time. Finally, mention any of their past work that you found interesting or inspiring. Everyone loves positive energy. I personally like to take notes from all my 1:1s and end the initial conversations by asking the names of two more people I should talk to. 

Your output

Lastly, a useful output to aim for at the end of your first month is a “where we are” summary document or deck. This report should list all the ongoing efforts in your space and give credit to the people who are leading them. Having your own written document will help you drive clarity with regard to the problem statement, potential opportunities, and current challenges facing your team. The writing process and a 30-day deadline will make you ask a lot of questions (again, your job!) and help you build trust (your mindset). It will demonstrate to the team that you were really listening, can quickly consume a lot of information, and are able to simplify and communicate complex ideas. Your stakeholders will have confidence that you don’t just “talk the talk,” but also pay attention to detail, team alignment, and execution.

I hope these pointers help you ramp up in your new product job. I wish you the best of luck during your first 30 days and beyond. The world is rooting for you.