A startup is an experiment turned to a company designed to grow fast and achieve the purpose it was intended to serve in its lifecycle. So, if you call your company a startup, you are always trying to make your experiment succeed and turn it into a viable business. So far so good, you saw an opportunity in a space, you worked out an idea to turn that opportunity into business, you got the first product delivered, you raised little money to keep going and now you suddenly realize you would need a Product Manager since everything is growing so fast that it is becoming impossible for you to spend 24×7 of your time thinking and working on your product and even if you are doing so, you require a more dedicated person who is meant only for this job.
A product manager is that person in your organization who is going to wireframe user experience, technology and business of your organization. For a startup till now; you, your engineers, friends, family, neighbors, random acquaintances etc. have helped you in wire framing these or doing all other responsibilities of a product manager and probably would have done an amazing job till now.
Are you seriously thinking a product manager will come and suddenly takeover all these tasks. Its a good news if you are not thinking like this. Its a good news if you are thinking that Product Manager will be coming to your team, understanding product, you, your team and understand how the product has been built till now. Its a good news if you are looking for a product manager who is a leader and just not a person who write specifications for your product. Its a good news if you are looking for a product manager, who at the end of his experience don’t want to say I had spec out the whole product but who will say I helped specing out the whole product helping company to achieve have what we have right now in reality.
Your Product Manager is someone who is going to resolve conflicting situation in terms of features, goals etc. .Conflict is the most important component of any creative process. Lack of conflict resolution skill can kill your startup. The only way to solve them is by interacting more rather reacting. Absorbing each others’ thoughts is going to be the core part of product manager and negotiating everyone’s thoughts, convincing all and coming to a solution is going to be skill of an amazing product manager.
You should be looking for a person (make points while you are interviewing) who is :
1: Aggressive listener:
You are not looking for someone who talks a lot. Your product manager has to listen a lot, understanding every bit of it. Human mind’s skill for listening words per second is much more than we talk. Its a normal tendency to think what to react back while listening since you have so much time to think while you are listening to someone. Look for a person who spends lot of effort in listening what you saying. Look for a person whose tendency is not to react after every line you say, but someone who can make you speak more and make you understand that he understands what you are talking since he values accumulating ideas. This is a rare skill to find but so are the people you hunt for in your startup, they are rare!
2: Whose video and audio is in synch
Philosophies and actions have to be in sync for every member of your startup. For a product manager, this is going to be another essential skill you should be looking forward, for he is going to form all the process and organize you better. If his actions and words do not match, you should probably be scared before taking any decision for hiring (you should not have doubt, but you should be scared for this hiring).
Finally if you like the post, please comment for more skills you think one should be looking for a startup product manager.