4 Tips on Hiring Great Product Managers

hiringHiring great people in a startup is really tough, and hiring great product managers is no exception.

There are many good posts on the topic – my two favorites are Kenneth Norton’s guidelines on hiring great PMs and Ian McAllister‘s, Quora answer for “What distinguishes the Top 1% of Product Managers from the Top 10%?” — both are must reads for anyone looking to hire and nurture high performing product managers.

I wanted to add some tactical lessons I’ve learned over the years that help me during the interview process:

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On MVP, failing fast and other Agile myths

mythbustersLike in a game of Broken Telephone, some of the most common terms used to describe agility and the “new age” of startup culture and product development have taken a meaning quite different than their original intent, one that could be counter productive and in some cases destructive to teams’ ability to execute.

The essence of agile methodology is allowing teams to handle smaller, more manageable chunks of work, get market feedback, quickly adapt and correct course. The benefits of this approach are numerous but, like many other management approaches, the devil is in the details – how do you determine what  those smaller chunks of work are and how do you find the best way to move forward after receiving feedback?

Here are a few common misconceptions of agile product development:

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The hardest thing about managing people

… the other hard thing for bosses (I hate that word, btw) is to learn from their own mistakes when they don’t let their people make their own mistake.

A Founder's Notebook

From The No-Nonsense Business Advice You Need to Hear, an interview with Jeffrey James:

For bosses, I think the hardest thing is letting people make their own mistakes. Resisting the desire to intervene. It’s the whole question of whether you are controlling people or coaching people. You can’t do both. It’s easy to jump to control. People seek control in their lives and of their destinies. But as a boss you can’t really do that. All you can do is point people toward what you want them to do and try to get them to do it better. That requires a lot of patience and a lot of perceptiveness. It doesn’t come easy to many people in management positions.

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The 5 Traits of High Performing Product Teams

Creating a strong and healthy culture allowing teams to perform to their best potential is super important in any team and especially in product teams where cultural and performance issues may have a severe impact on other teams they interact with.

I first read Five Dysfunctions of a Team a few years ago and read it again recently. I highly recommend it to any manager or leader – it’s a light read and is quite insightful and effective in making you think about the type of culture you’d like to nurture in your team.

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