Tomorrow, a new Apprentice Product Manager (APM) starts working with me.
They’ve never done this job before, so here’s how I’m going onboard them quickly and why it works for almost every job:
1. Talk to everyone
Customers, coworkers, colleagues in different departments. Every person you talk to will give you a different perspective and can be an ally as you work on fixing problems for our users.
2. Explain the tools (or lack thereof)
I’m not a huge proponent of always using frameworks or rigid processes for approaching problems. There is a general Get Shit Done (GSD) process we follow at Shopify, but what really matters most is maximizing impact while minimizing overhead, and that balance will change between projects.
3. Research, research, research
Go talk to those customers, coworkers, and colleagues in different departments again. As a PM, we need to become subject matter experts quickly and there’s no better way than learning from those around you.
Customers? They know what they need, want, like, and don’t like.
Customer support? They deal with the problems daily and know where customers struggle most.
Colleagues? They know what projects might be related or have tried to solve your problem before. These relationships will also be critical as you work to solve the problem.
Is this onboarding only for PMs?
Nope! It applies to almost every job out there. Onboarding is all about learning as much as you can, as quickly as possible.
Hiring a sales rep?
- Get them talking to everyone so they can learn the product and problems customers are trying to solve.
- Explain the tools for managing the sales funnel.
- Research even more to become a subject matter expert that can truly help potential customers.
Hiring an accountant?
- Get them talking to everyone to understand how all aspects of the company and industry work.
- Explain the tools they need for managing the books.
- Research even more to discover opportunities for improvement, and what reporting requirements exist.
Who are you onboarding next? Will you use these steps? Comment below!
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