Tamar Hadar

Tamar HadarShare

Sr. Director of Product, The Knot Worldwide
Tamar Hadar
Tamar Hadar
Sr. Director of Product, The Knot Worldwide | Formerly Trello (Atlassian)January 31

As a first PM, you will need to be very judicious with how you allocate your time and resources. In fact, I think that’s true for larger companies as well. There are always going to be more ideas than resources available.

As a product manager, you are responsible for translating the company’s vision into a roadmap so your first priority should be internalizing the company’s goals. Is it to drive sign-ups? Increase retention? Increase MRR? Or something else altogether? Narrowing in on that top goal helps to weed out work that may be less relevant.

Once you’ve identified the top goal (there may be more than one), filter out any initiatives that do not map to this goal. The exceptions being pressing engineering initiatives (i.e. a platform upgrade, reducing technical debt etc.) or time-sensitive projects.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to narrow down your list through this process of elimination. This is where a prioritization framework will come in handy. My go-to is the impact/effort matrix. It is very similar to ICE and RICE but simpler and more visual. For each initiative, assign an estimated impact to a measurable goal and a level of effort. Make sure to collaborate with your engineering and design counterparts when evaluating each initiative. This will reduce the chance of your own bias getting in the way and lead to better prioritization.

For those initiatives left on the cutting room floor, think of a way you could still make some progress—is there an MVP you could run to learn something while the teams are working on the selected initiatives? There might be a low-cost way to validate assumptions via user research or data deep dive so that by the time you go through this exercise again, you are able to make a more informed decision.

Tamar Hadar
Tamar Hadar
Sr. Director of Product, The Knot Worldwide | Formerly Trello (Atlassian)January 31
First off, take a deep breath and remember, crushing those OKRs is going to take time and effort. Next, set clear goals for each milestone and build a plan around it. Just like you would when defining a project, identify success metrics for yourself and create a plan. Here’s an example:

First 30 days: Learning and Absorbing

  • Establish good working relationships with stakeholders: the key to being effective is having open lines of communication with your coworkers. Take the time to get to know them and learn from their experience.
  • Immerse yourself in data: learn where to find pertinent information, which dashboard to follow and how to query data on your own (or work with a data scientist).
  • Familiarize yourself with your product’s users, their needs, pain points and Jobs to be Done (JTBD).
  • Spend time doing competitive analysis to better understand the product landscape.
  • Integrate into the team’s current work and process and identify ways in which you could be helpful.

30-60: Ownership and Leadership

  • Assume responsibility for a project: work with your team to define the project’s scope and add requirements.
  • Define success metrics for the project and work with your engineers and data scientists to ensure impact can be measured and tracked.
  • Identify cross-functional dependencies and reach out to relevant teams.
  • Give a demo and solicit early feedback. Continue to do so throughout the project.
  • Report on the project’s progress and impact to keep everyone involved and interested. Speak clearly about the business impact and how the project ladders up to the company’s goals.

60-90: Strategy and Vision

  • Leverage your understanding of the business and its users to craft a vision and strategy.
  • Translate the above into an actionable roadmap and work with your team to define success metrics for each.
  • Run brainstorming sessions with your team regularly to generate ideas and prioritize them.
  • Evangelize: this is where your storytelling skills will come into play—make your team’s mission known, its projects familiar and its rationale clear to everyone. Write posts, speak at company meetings and bring feedback back to your team.
  • Become an expert: be the go-to person for your focus area.
Tamar Hadar
Tamar Hadar
Sr. Director of Product, The Knot Worldwide | Formerly Trello (Atlassian)January 31

Speaking to your cross-functional teams is the best way to gain a deeper understanding of your company’s goals, its processes and challenges. It’s also an excellent way to get to know your new coworkers!

I like to start by telling the person a little bit about myself, the parts that don’t show up on my resume. Beyond forming a real connection with the person you’re speaking to, sharing something about yourself will lead to greater trust.

In your conversations, make sure to include members of your team as well as other teams such as Support, Marketing, Sales and Data Science.

Here are a few questions I like to ask:

  • What is your team’s biggest challenge?
  • What is our users’ biggest pain points?
  • How can I help you?
  • What is our competition doing better than us?
  • What is your preferred style of communication?
  • Who do you recommend I speak to next?
Tamar Hadar
Tamar Hadar
Sr. Director of Product, The Knot Worldwide | Formerly Trello (Atlassian)January 31

I have been a part of small teams, large teams, a PM consultant and an entrepreneur. I have yet to scale a PM team beyond the first PM but here are the things I would consider:

  • Structure your team based on where the company will be in a few months/years—hiring should reflect the company’s vision and serve as a blueprint for where the business is headed.
  • Ideally, each one of the identified goals above would have a subject matter expert (e.g. a retention PM, a growth PM, a localization PM, an Enterprise PM, etc). As the team scales, you'll be able to move away from hiring generalists and seek experts who have deep domain knowledge.
  • Consider training young PMs through an internship program. This will give you the opportunity to mold your PMs and instill your preferred process early on.
  • It’s never too early to define a set of guiding principles and establish a process. Shaping the product team’s DNA at the onset will pay dividends as the company grows and consistency is maintained.
  • Hire with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in mind: a diverse team means broad perspectives and creative ideas. It is not only the right thing to do, it also helps businesses innovate at a faster rate and reach financial success.
Tamar Hadar
Tamar Hadar
Sr. Director of Product, The Knot Worldwide | Formerly Trello (Atlassian)January 31

I think it takes a thorough understanding of a product and its users to achieve success. For that reason, I am not a big believer in “quick wins”. Take the time to learn before executing and think of “winning” as the result of iterative experimentation.

That said, the main thing you, as a new PM, bring to the table is a fresh perspective. That perspective is invaluable and could lead to great insights. We all tend to make assumptions about users’ behavior or their likelihood to convert or churn, but approaching these with a new set of eyes could lead to a different conclusion. You should feel empowered to ask questions and challenge prior hypotheses.

A good outcome of the first 90 days would be a strong understanding of the business and your team. This can be gained by setting up time to speak to key stakeholders, interviewing users, analyzing data and doing research. All of these efforts will provide a foundation upon which you would be able to build a strategy and execute, hopefully, with several great wins!

Credentials & Highlights
Sr. Director of Product at The Knot Worldwide
Formerly Trello (Atlassian)
Top Product Management Mentor List
Product Management AMA Contributor
Lives In Oakland, CA