Handing the keys to someone else: Hiring a Product Manager
So you’ve finally decided to hire a product manager. It’ll feel great at first, but once the initial excitement wears off, the doubts will quickly seep in.
Can you trust this person to manage part of the business you worked so hard to build? Do you feel comfortable turning him loose and not micromanaging his every move?
Don’t worry; these fears are completely normal. As the founder and leader of your company, you’ve grown accustomed to playing a role in every major decision that concerns your business. However, now that you’ve grown large enough to need product managers, your company is simply too complex for you to keep handling every single detail.
You need to hire a trustworthy maintainer to keep the gears oiled.
Why Founders Tend to Micromanage
“I started this product, so why shouldn’t I be involved?”
You definitely deserve credit for creating your product, but now that you have a product manager on your team, it’s time to take a step back and relinquish some control. If you don’t, you risk creating an inefficient and unnecessarily tense work environment.
Founders want to micromanage because they’ve put so much of their blood, sweat, and tears into getting their vision off the ground. When you invest all of your being into something, you naturally grow attached to it and have difficulty letting go of your duties.
It takes time to trust any new team member, but it’s especially difficult when you’re giving up control of part of your business in the process. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you have to do.
The Type of Product Manager You Need
“How do I know what my business needs from the product manager?”
The answer to this question depends on where your business is in its growth. New startups and mature companies have vastly different needs.
Here are the specific characteristics you should seek based on the stage of your business:
- New companies: Your product manager needs a self-starting attitude. Find someone who can make something out of nothing. Look for growth hackers — people who can drive traffic to your website, streamline your checkout process, and effectively promote your product via word-of-mouth advertising.
- Growing companies: Growing companies need product managers with sharp organizational skills and keen attention to detail. This person must maintain your company’s trajectory and respond quickly to problems as they arise. You need stable maintenance, not the fire that helps new companies get off the ground.
- Mature companies: Mature companies need product managers who can double down on existing strategies and integrate themselves smoothly into your existing culture. These individuals also need to be especially capable of identifying opportunities for growth, as mature companies don’t always have predetermined courses like growing ones do.
What to Expect From Your New Product Manager
“I can give up control, but what do I get in return?”
Set clear expectations with your new hire in specific terms. Don’t just say you want to keep the lines of communication open, specify exactlyhow often you want updates. Clearly define which scenarios require your attention and which ones you want your product manager to handle.
To keep yourself in the loop, ask your product manager to give you regular demos on the state of your product. This way, not only can you remain privy to the progress of development, but you can also strengthen your relationship with your new hire.
Successful product management strikes a happy balance between communication and decision-making. If you outline your vision clearly and communicate well, you’re giving your new hire every reason in the world to succeed.
Here’s the most important thing you can do: Relax! Your new hire is here to relieve you from some of the burden that’s been keeping you up at night.
Ensure the success of your product manager by clearly defining your vision and his role. Then, enjoy your newfound freedom by finding new challenges and opportunities to expand your business.