Discover more from Product Snippets from Lane
An internal memo: four themes for onboarding new PMs
An inside look at four themes for new product people at Coda.
Last week I was talking to a PM who was onboarding into a new company—and they asked for advice on how to structure their first couple months. I pulled up a short writeup in our Product & Design team hub as my frame to help guide the conversation.
Below is a slightly redacted version of our onboarding writeup that we share with new product people at Coda. It’s just one small part of a very thoughtful onboarding experience our team has created for new Codans. I thought it might help other product people frame their first couple months when joining a new team.
Onboarding into a new product and company can be daunting. But like any problem, it helps to break it down. Below are four themes along with some high-level advice on each as you onboard into our Product team.
Product — Get to know the product really, really well. It’s a deeply interconnected system, so it’s critical you learn all the ins and outs of it. Start by getting hands on and building lots of docs. You’ll likely to learn the most by making, so be prolific at expressing ideas using our product. You want to be able to picture every interaction that you hear in a customer or internal meeting. And don’t pass up any opportunity to put yourself to a test, like building a complete solution with a customer, demo’ing to a friend, or creatively expressing your ideas in the product.
Customers — Our customers are amazing and use our tool in so many unique and interesting ways. Listen to them (and our customer-facing teams) and ask great questions. You should start developing an intuition for their delights, struggles, and needs through as much customer interaction as you can. Your instincts about how to improve our product should come from a steady diet of listening and empathetically putting yourself in the shoes of customers.
People — Get to know other people in the company by being genuinely curious about them. Ask about their life outside of work. Building a foundation of trust with a broad group early is essential to doing high-quality work together later. It’s what allows you to care personally, and challenge directly as Kim Scott would say. We’ve hired an amazing group of humans, see if you can figure out what makes each one of them unique and wonderful. If you need help prioritizing who to meet in what order, ask your manager.
Your Team — We have five teams at Coda, and every team works differently. Get to know yours really well. Ask lots of questions early about how the team works and how to get things done on your team. Make your own list of ways you think the team might improve based on your observations and chats with others.
I’d also love to hear about or see your onboarding rituals to learn!
👋 This little newsletter experiment is just getting started. So if you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you subscribed and shared with a friend. Have a wonderful day! ✌️