As Stuart’s CPO, one of my responsibilities is to answer the most common progression questions my team could have:

  • How do I know if I’m doing a good job?
  • What does my company expect of me?
  • Why do they have that title and I don’t?
  • How long until I get a promotion/pay rise?
  • Why shouldn’t I take that job offer in my inbox?

Since I joined Stuart, I have spent many hours researching what would make a fair and meaningful progression framework for product managers (our product designer’s progression framework will be discussed in a future post by Agata, our Head of Product Design).

I’ve been reading and analysing all the frameworks frameworks I could find, discussing with my team and with other CPOs or VP Products to gather as many insights as I could.

I finally cherry-picked my favourite ideas from Medium, Spotify, Intercom to shape Sextant 1.0, Stuart’s product management growth framework.

Sextant 1.0 is assessing Product Managers performance on 16 tracks for progression grouped in 3 main categories :

  • Core Skills: Defines the role of a Product Manager at Stuart and what skills you need to be successful in your role.
  • Knowledge: The supporting layer for mastering the core skills. From User Research knowledge to Technical knowledge, they make stronger product managers.
  • Soft Skills: The personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed for success on the job. Soft skills characterize how a person interacts in his or her relationships with others.

Each track represent a specific knowledge or skill and for each of those, a product manager can go from level 1 to level 5 depending on their expertise and their level of mastery.

Assessing Product Managers performance [image 1]

WTF is a sextant you could ask? A sextant is a “navigation instrument that measures the angular distance between two visible objects. It’s used by navigators to find their position on the earth”.

Sextant is 100% based on the product manager’s role definition that we have at Stuart (I will develop this in a future post) and might actually not apply to your company but I am pretty sure you will find overlapping skills with your very own vision of what makes an excellent product manager.

1. Core Skills

Masters the art of releasing & measuring from announcing a release on Slack to a group of people to building & executing a global rollout plan with multiple stakeholders involved and maintaining a high-quality product documentation

2. Knowledge

Masters the concept of designing solutions from elementary knowledge of visual design concepts to expert level understanding of design-thinking methodologies

Masters the art of development from high-level understanding of how software is built to having written code in a production environment

Masters the art of using data insights from requesting support to seek data insights to effectively defining the analysis we need, independently seeking and evaluating data insights

3. Soft Skills

Masters the art of sharing information and actively listening from effectively communicating with close stakeholders to large and complex information and conveying it concisel

🦸‍♂️ Leadership

Masters the art of empowering teams and inspiring people from working alone to rallying a whole team along a project — leading by inspiration vs. constraint

Masters the art of making other people grow from sharing knowledge with peers to setting up a program to peer-learning (e.g. proactively running show & tell sessions)

Masters the art of building communities from promoting Stuart culture internally to representing Stuart externally to draw attention as well as position Stuart as a good place to work (e.g. blog posts, talks)

Masters the art of kick-starting things from setting up meetings to achieve defined objectives to delivering a project not in the roadmap with high impact without being asked to do so

Masters the art of organisation & automatisation from respecting established processes to designing new processes to addressing existing issues and help scaling the company

Masters the art of overachieving from keeping accuracy in mind to setting the gold standard for accuracy for the entire team

Masters the art of being trustworthy from meeting deadlines to consistently outperforming thanks to excellence at planning, priority setting and execution.

Next Steps

Obviously, Sextant is not perfect and many things have to be improved to turn it into a solid career growth framework similar to what Medium and Buffer have created.

I therefore decided to open it to the product management community in order collect feedback. This is a great chance to help improve important processes that can apply to so many of us.

The most obvious improvements I already identified are:

  • Provide clear examples of how you can move from level 1 to level 5 for each track (I am already working on this with Jalal Souky, one of our senior product managers)
  • Defining the assessment process to make it as objective (vs subjective) as possible
  • Clarifying how product managers can move from an associate product manager position to a Head of Product role
  • Making Sextant a Maker and Manager career framework

Help me improving Sextant by sharing your comments.

Would you like to see more? We are hiring! 🚀 Check out our open positions.

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