As a first-time Product Manager, much of your learning will be on the job. As an inexperienced PM, good mentorship and guidance is key to your success. So, what if your first gig in the world of product management leaves you feeling like you have been thrown from the frying pan into the fire? When should you leave your first-time Product Manager role?
First-Time Product Manager, Second Thoughts
Sometimes, new PMs land that first job only to find just a few weeks in that it is not the job they signed on for. Maybe you are dealing with a lack of training, or a toxic work environment that sets unclear and unrealistic expectations. In this situation, the temptation may be to stick it out and try to cope with your situation. You have concerns about a number of things: what will people think of you if you quit your first PM job early on? What sort of job opportunities are out there? What if it is a shortcoming of your own knowledge?
Is It a Positive Challenge?
The first thing you must consider is the reality of your situation. A new employee who is being set up for success will have a very clear job description. They will also have very clear KPIs to go ahead and meet; there will be clear daily, weekly, and monthly targets, with a clear path to promotion. In a productive environment, a certain amount of stress is healthy, but the work should always be equally engaging as it is challenging.
Are You Being Trained?
If your new company is lacking in this basic kind of structure, you must consider your commitment to such an uphill battle. In an environment where new hires are left to fend for themselves, you are dealing with poor leadership and it is time to start planning your exit. It does not matter how good of a Product Manager you are — an experienced product manager with years of experience would still be set up to fail by incompetent people at the top. If your new company is setting you up to fail in such a way, it is not about your shortcomings as a Product Manager.
Is This Where You Want to Be?
If you look on our testimonial page, you’ll see we have had somebody from every possible background transition successfully into product management with our program. A toxic work environment like this is not a matter of your background, or a problem with your skills, and it is not a problem with your mindset. Remember — most of your meaningful learning as a product manager should happen naturally on the job as you adapt to the specific requirements of your company and projects.
If you do not have the chance to gain these practical skills on the job, the chances are that it will not be a good fit in the long term. This is a problem with your company, and you should feel empowered to get yourself into a situation that can help you learn and grow as a Product Manager.
Are You a First-Time Product Manager Looking for a Way Out?
If you are still unsure about your current environment, don’t put off getting the advice and help you need. We would love to have a conversation with you about your plan to get yourself into the Product Manager job that will be right for you and your career goals. Get the support you need with our community group for PMs and product management job hunters.
When you’re ready to take the next step towards a better Product Manager role, schedule a free coaching call with one of our in-house career coaches to begin to kick-start your career. We’d love to answer any questions you may still have.