What were your biggest challenges on transitioning from Product Manager to Group Product Manager?
Being a good PM helps becoming a good manager of PMs, but is not a sufficient condition. I have seen below 3 as top challenges/opportunities unique to GPMs:
- Deligating, and trusting your direct report PMs to care about Customers as much as you do, if not more.
- Providing saftey net for PMs to fail fast, learn, and iterate, but as well the essential framework on lowering the cost of failure to ensure contribution to business impact.
- Knowing that PM skills are not hard to aquire, but takes time. Coaching the team on specific PM skills need persistence and patience. It is not like you launch a product, and you see a metric go up instantaneously.
Going from an IC PM to a manager role was one of the most gratifying transitions in my career. Having been a manager before in a different context prior to becoming a Group Product Manager at HubSpot, I had some prior experience leading teams and operating in an environment with broader scope and complexity that helped ease the transition. That said, I do recall a couple of things:
- Saying no to your pet rock: As an IC PM, you’re the biggest fan of your own product ideas first and foremost. Given my drive for intellectual honesty, I’ve generally taken pride in my ability to arrive at the best possible answer (even if it’s not originally my own) throughout my career. I do still remember early on as a GPM saying no to ideas I thought were great in the past was a practice of self-restraint. Fortunately, this comes naturally now. Now my role has shifted to ensuring teams are focused on the most impactful work, and having strong empathy for teams when we have to say no to the incredible ideas they harbored.
- Finding the right cruising altitude: Within the context of HubSpot, there’s a Product Lead player-coach role between PM and GPM. During my time as a Product Lead, I found it challenging and thrilling all at the same time to be at the right cruising altitude depending on the task at hand and who I was communicating with. The way you communicate with the team you’re PM-ing is probably not the same way you would communicate with executive leaders.
- Finding your people: This is something I recall from shortly after I shifted to GPM. As an individual contributor (IC) PM you develop very deep relationships with the designers and engineers you work with day in and out. You’re in zoom meetings or on slack with them most of the day. Especially in a hybrid world, it took me a moment to shift my mindset to a broader definition of team and intentionally spend more time with the PMs and peers in the product leadership team. Fortunately, I love building new connections and HubSpotters are very warm and eager to meet new folks so this was a fleeting moment.
I’m sure there are a lot more, but these were top of mind.