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What should a junior PM focus on?

Congrats, you landed your first job as a PM. Now what? (Yeah, that is all the introduction I am writing because who is reading intro?)

1. Be proactive There are two kinds of people that get into PM. One , that has read extensively & is ready day 1. The other kind, that had great intuition, somehow got this job & has no idea what it actually has. Whoever you are, ALIGN to the organisation well. Know what you can contribute towards. If you are type - 1, you know exactly what you can help with, so pitch that. If you are the second type, observe what other PMs are doing & just offer to help. Arrange meetings, put numbers on excel sheet, find users to talk to, help with a presentation. But, pick something as soon as you can.

2. Better Processes Since you are new into the system, fix the stuff everyone is pushing away - ie processes. There is so much template alignment, project management process, PRD standards that are all haywire if you are in an early stage startup, so start there. Dont ask permission, just write them and ask people for feedback. You will make their work way easier & they will begin to trust you.

3. Read data Notice how I didnt say analyse? That is because not everyone is there yet & dont worry noone expects this from you. But, read the data. Understand the nuances & what are the ways data is captured, what sources do they come from & how are events logged in the system. Familiarise yourself with this, and maybe go back to point 2 and write a guide to make it easier for the next hire also!

4. Take notes Dont enter any conversation without a note-taking method. Keep logging what people are telling you. Make sure, if you are in meetings, people can say - “Oh, Vin’s taking notes, we are sure to get a detailed summary after this, so we can concentrate fully here.” Give value right away! People will trust you with more tasks.

5. Ship small Even if it is a copy change, ship as soon as you can. Deliberately keep looking at the backlog(if there is one) or come up with small changes that might help. Keep asking colleagues if they think your feature will add value. IF it doesnt, what can you do? Run experiments? If you are B2C, make a ASO change & test it. If you are B2B look at features that have low change, high impact & requested a lot, convince an engineer & ship it to one small company that is not a revenue changer, or is on a free plan and observe closely.

It is completely okay to make mistakes when you start. No-one expects you to be an expert already, but keep showing you are ready to learn & question everything.

That is all, this could have been a ten chapter book, but it ends here ;) OR maybe it will be a book someday, for now it is free and I hope not completely useless!!!

Published 12 Jun 2020

Always looking for learning opportunities in product and life.
Vindhya C on Twitter