I have recruited and developed a team of high-performing product managers in the last few years. In terms of mentoring them to grow there are a set of principles, I try to stick to. This has evolved in the last 3–4 years. I am sure this will evolve in the future as well.
- To scale as a product leader, delegate and trust your team. If you cannot, you did a bad job of hiring. Take your time to build the right team. Spending time before a hire is better than after.
- “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” — Steve Jobs
- Define clear responsibilities, goals and expectations, then get out of the way and let them do their job. Give freedom and protection.
- Be available always to guide and mentor them. Give feedback along the way — don’t wait for formal reviews.
- Dedicate time every week to discuss their week, guide them, brainstorm with them, set expectations and inspire them.
- Make being redundant your goal. If you are no longer needed for what the team is responsible for, you have done great. This frees up your time to focus on other things to push the business forward.
- Think of your team’s future, their growth. Work towards that — with them and in the background.
- Work to increase their visibility in the organisation.
- Take the fall for them and protect them from the rest of the organisation. But show them the right path to help them improve.
- Be honest and brutal with your feedback if they are off-track. But be clear with examples, expectations and a path to improvement.
In a follow-up to this I will write down differences in my approach to individuals in the team.