6 keys to successful onboarding

as a PO at a new company

Victoria Sheer
Product Owner, Trainer, Mentor and a certified ICF coach.
You landed a new job as a PO, congrats! What is next? You start with the onboarding journey in your role as a PO at a new company. Rarely a new hire follows a structured onboarding approach, while the impact of onboarding on the future success in the job is crucial. Below you will read some tips on how to make your onboarding the most efficient as possible and what lies in the responsibility of your hiring manager as well.
First and foremost, identify key product stakeholders in the organization and set a series of 1-1s with them. Consider talking to product sponsors, customer research, analytics, marketing, and customer service teams. Don’t forget the development team! These people will give you business and product context and building a good relationship with them is essential for your future success.
To structure the information you collect, try using Business Model Canvas. It will help you to make sure that you have a 360 view of the product.
Exposure to true users from the start is essential, so start by connecting to focus groups or setting discovery interviews. You need to collect as much product context as possible and understanding of user pains is the key.
You need to understand how your product generates revenue. Try to draw the sales funnel for yourself from awareness to trials to onboarding to becoming an active user. Here product marketing can be a great source of knowledge. Do not forget to check unit economics and analyze financial KPIs to check the health of the product.
Understand the strategic context. Company mission, vision, strategy and main KPIs are essential for you to build your product vision and strategy upon. Keep in mind that in large companies strategic context in different divisions can be different.
Learn about company culture. Is it formal? What is the dress code? What is the communication style? Is it hierarchical? Those are the key questions to ask to build your communication style upon.
Needless to say, that successful onboarding lies not only in the hands of the employee but also of the hiring manager. Big help would be to help connecting a new employee with some team members personally or appoint a so-called buddy. 1-1 calls in the beginning are out of most importance. As a hiring manager for you it is important to make sure that the employee understood their role and responsibilities. The big win for you as a hiring manager would be if by the end of the first month you establish good and open relationship with the new hire based on trust. Your work, as a manager, is to develop your employees. Therefore, already during onboarding you could already establish a coaching plan, Having clear development goals would also increase new hire’s loyalty and sense of security.

Remember, onboarding doesn’t “just happen” it takes a lot of time and effort from a hiring manager and an employee themselves. But this is a great investment and could save a lot of time and stress in future.
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