Plan Your New Product Manager Onboarding with Ease (Free Template Inside)
An organized onboarding process for new hires puts you miles ahead of your competitors.
But building onboarding systems that specifically target crucial job roles in your company? That helps your new hires give you the expert output you hired them for faster.
As a bonus, your new hires will also appreciate your efforts. When employees perceive their onboarding experience as exceptional, they are 2.6 times as likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace and far more likely to stay.
Product managers are a great example of strategic roles within a team and a company. They are critical to the vision and strategy behind your product.
Leaving them to figure things out independently may lead to months to get up to speed. Or they might even give up trying to get up to speed and seek employment somewhere.
That's time and money you cannot afford to lose if you have a new product or trying to pivot your current strategy in a cut-throat industry.
In this article, we'll:
- Give you a downloadable template for your product manager onboarding checklist.
- Tell you how to use it.
- Show you what a successful product manager onboarding process looks like and how long it should take.
✈️ Why is onboarding important for product managers?
Onboarding employees according to their specific roles will tailor the process for new hires instead of disappointing them with a generic experience.
Why is this important for a product manager?
Product managers and product management consultants bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table and can help you to avoid common pitfalls:
- They maintain relationships with key stakeholders and communicate effectively with customers and the product team.
- They also assess the market needs relative to the product and what people like and don't like.
- So they could help you avoid introducing features people don't like, avoid glitches, etc.
They're people who will be representing your company to multiple parties, which is why you have to make a great impression on them first.
But you won't do that by merely focusing on processes and disregarding the new hire experience.
➡️ Does this sound like a challenging and time-consuming process? It doesn't have to be. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to build an experience-based onboarding.
📝 Product manager onboarding 30-60-90 day plan template
A plan for onboarding new product managers should include an introduction to the company's culture, strategic vision, and values, just like any other job role.
If onboarding is typically fast-paced and chaotic, a 30-60-90 plan template brings structure to the process.
Customize this onboarding template to map your new product person's onboarding and make it a key component and point of reference for their onboarding journey.
Tip: We recommend sharing it with them a few days before the first day of work. Such a head start will give them a rough idea of what the first few weeks will look like.
💡 Check out our supplementary onboarding templates for extra resources. You'll find examples of team introductions, onboarding surveys, and more role-based onboarding checklists.
This week has to focus on making your new hire as comfortable as possible. It is their time to start building connections within their team and start building their product and process knowledge.
- Schedule at least two one-on-one meetings with their teammates. (The focus should be on building relationships and sharing knowledge: ask co-workers about their user knowledge.)
- After they complete product training, assign the task of creating an overview of why they think customers use your product.
- Finalize documentation.
- Complete tech set-up (make sure they have access to your company's chosen product management tools).
- Meet the buddy and have the first buddy activity.
- Complete product training.
- Send necessary documents to be signed and company literature to review.
- Hand over access credentials to all accounts the new product manager will need.
- Carry an HR check-in focused on compensation, benefits, and company perks.
- Book meetings with the main stakeholders across teams (such as engineering and marketing).
- The first onboarding buddy meeting takes place. The buddy will act as the new hire's social and cultural compass. You can choose someone from the product team, but it is not mandatory.
🆘 Do you need help identifying the right onboarding buddy? Say no more. Check out our templates you can use to match up buddies to new hires.
Learning focus: Product training
Your new hire product training should ensure your new product manager understands the following:
- product platform and architecture;
- how to use the product;
- product vision;
- the product's unique selling points;
- compatibility with other products and services;
- the product's ideal customer profile;
- customization potential;
- upcoming updates;
- the market and the specific place for the product;
- the current customer base;
- what current customers appreciate most about the product;
- feature requirements;
- main competitors.
Customer and process focus
- Learn the process and the workflow, which is particularly important for multiple feature teams or team members distributed across various locations.
- Start auditing customer calls.
- The end of week one is the perfect time to start directly engaging and talking with users. This first-hand experience will build on the product knowledge obtained from training.
➡️ Take the guesswork out of training your new employees with 15 best practices for training your new hires effectively.
First 30 days
Use these 30 days to begin bringing your new hire up to speed. Your product manager will start gaining essential knowledge, understanding the most important strategic areas of the job, and getting to know the customers.
- Understand short-term and long-term expectations from their role.
- Understand how the product roadmap accounts for the vision and strategy for the product.
- Become familiar with all product metrics.
- Spend time using the product(s) they'll be overseeing to help them understand the product from a user-experience perspective.
- Start by pretending to be a first-time user: create an account and go through the onboarding process. Take notes of the experience.
- Pass a quiz on product history, the number of added features, and reputation in the market.
- Start digging through the data: what analytics are in place?
- Start reviewing essential documentation:
- development and sales reports;
- press releases;
- customer support statistics;
- any additional reports that will help in the role.
- At the end of the first 30 days, the new product manager should understand the procedure for conveying the status and timeline of new features to stakeholders.
- Pair with an existing employee in the product role (mentorship).
- Receive regular tips, e.g., daily learning nudges on Slack.
Social and connections focus
- Commence cross-functional team meetings with engineers and designers.
- By the end of the 30 days, the new hire should conclude team introductions. The new product manager has met all key stakeholders within their team and the larger organization, such as:
- other product managers;
- engineering teams;
- sales representatives;
- marketing managers;
- community managers;
- Build closer relationships with close collaborators, i.e., the developers and designers. Organize a team lunch.
- Check in with the onboarding buddy at least twice.
Your new hire should be more situated. Implement the feedback phase of onboarding now.
- Begin running product strategy meetings with the team.
- Make first strategic decisions on the product. But start small with a minor feature and enhancement that would not up-end the existing product.
- A minor update offers a great learning opportunity to experience the entire team in action. The product manager can also establish new processes to incorporate into the workflow for future (larger) projects.
- Conduct the first user interview for feedback after shadowing a fellow product manager.
- Check progress on goals from the first 30 days, and revisit them if incomplete.
- Modify existing plans based on early performance indicators.
- Learn how to identify market trends to locate areas of opportunity for the product.
- Check in with buddy for updates on the social onboarding process.
Tie your onboarding process together at this stage by making the best use of information and feedback to decide the next steps.
- Track progress on the product roadmap.
- Routinely track product embedded analytics.
- Create a test plan for executing new features based on user feedback.
- Ship the first feature or product function planner under their leadership.
- Begin work on the next product development priority.
- Develop the business plan for the product, setting new KPIs, if relevant.
HR tasks: Onboarding survey & feedback
- Start calculating employee onboarding metrics. Your first focus can be on engagement and satisfaction.
- Talk to your new hire to understand compatibility with onboarding buddy better.
- Collect feedback on the onboarding process. Was there anything that could have led to better outcomes in productivity?
The end of the 90 days period can also be the time for the probation period review. But this will depend on how you define probation in your organization. Your probation period review is a perfect time to start conducting development conversations.
Set the stage for continuous development
- Identify areas of strength and weaknesses.
- Create the first development plan.
- Incorporate training and mentorship, if needed.
- Set up the new product manager for the next company-wide feedback cycle.
- They will write a self-review and offer feedback for peers and for their own supervisor.
- Enlist in constructive feedback training.
👀 What does an effective product manager's onboarding process look like?
The onboarding process should include a combination of:
- classroom-style training,
- hands-on experience, and
- one-on-one mentorship.
Classroom-style training will provide the new hire with an overview of the company culture, the team structure, and the product roadmap.
Hands-on experience will allow the new hire to work with the product and see how it functions in the real world.
One-on-one mentorship will allow the new hire to ask questions and get tailored feedback.
🔍 How is onboarding product managers different from other roles?
A product manager's primary responsibility is to develop and oversee the execution of a product roadmap. Therefore, they need to deeply understand the product, the market, and the customers and articulate it to the rest of the team.
That means the onboarding process for a product manager has to specifically focus on providing them with the knowledge and resources they need to be successful through:
- shadowing experienced product managers,
- attending industry events, and
- receiving training on specific tools and systems such as product analytics tools.
⏰ How long is product manager onboarding?
Onboarding can't happen overnight.
It takes time for product managers to get up to speed on the company's products, processes, and culture.
Depending on the size and complexity of the organization, onboarding can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Companies should provide new product managers ample time to ramp up and assimilate into the organization.
Cutting corners on onboarding is a recipe for disaster.
⚙️ Why you need to automate your product manager onboarding process
Automating parts of the onboarding process can save time and money and eliminate the need for paper-based processes.
This way, you can focus on more critical tasks, like orienting new employees to your company culture and helping them build relationships with their co-workers.
Instead of manually gathering all the necessary information and documents, everything can be automatically collected and organized for you.
You will also reduce the risk of human error, as when all the steps in the process are clearly laid out, there is no need for manual input.
When everything is laid out clearly and standardized, new product managers will be less likely to make mistakes or overlook important details.
Combine this with pairing them with your current product managers. Having access to first-hand, actionable insight for them will make your new hires' learning curve cut short.
Create better experiences
Onboarding product managers can be time-consuming and frustrating, both for the new hire and for the employees who are responsible for helping them get acclimated.
By providing new hires with access to digital resources and automating key steps in the onboarding process, you can create a more consistent experience for all new hires, regardless of who is responsible for guiding them through the process.
Preboarding is the process of getting new hires acclimated to the company and their specific role before their first day on the job.
By automating key steps in the process, such as sending out welcome emails and hardware, companies can help new hires get a head start on their onboarding experience.
💡 Product manager preboarding is crucial to ensuring that new hires succeed in their role and engaging them early on.
Don't know where to start with preboarding? Worry no more. We have a ready-to-use Preboarding template for you.
➡️ Set up new hires for success with Zavvy
You know the importance of targeted onboarding processes for your employees and are now armed with a checklist for your new product managers.
Product management is a complex job. When a new employee starts a new job as a product manager, they'll have a ton of company literature to go through.
So you'll need an intuitive system that takes care of your onboarding processes for a smooth new employee experience that never misses the mark.
Our employee enablement platform helps you make this happen for every single new hire.
With our employee onboarding software, you can:
- Set up individual journeys based on the job roles you're hiring for.
- Assign tasks, resources, and journeys for one hire, or hundreds, automatically.
- Monitor onboarding processes to track progress.
Plus, with our preboarding software, you can:
- Start the process of sending hardware, welcome emails, and kits with the click of a button.
- Make sure your new hire is on the same page with you from Day 1.
- Increase the number of touchpoints with your new hire before they start.
Zavvy has already partnered with many fantastic growing businesses to unlock their people potential. Here are some key wins they've achieved with the help of our suite of tools:
- Remote-first company Awesomic now achieves an average of 95.5% completion rates due to our designer onboarding program.
- Storyblok has saved 15 hours weekly during orientation, plus 1.5-2 hours during preboarding.
- Alasco has slashed time-to-productivity rates by 50% thanks to a fun, structured onboarding plan.
- Taktile's HR team saves 8 hours every week by automating feedback and performance review cycles for new hires.
Book a demo to discover how our automated onboarding tool will take your product manager onboarding to the next level.