How do you manage your group of PMs?

How do you stay involved in the details as a Group PM?
I currently manage 3 PMs and I don’t want them to feel that I’m micro managing them. At the same time, it is my responsibility to make sure that they are on the right track and to understand how every piece of our product fit together. I also need to explain all these product details to our upper management team.
Do you have tips on how to find the balance? Also what is your framework for managing a team of PMs?

5 Likes

I wish I could say I was following my own advice perfectly, but…

  • Regular 1:1s (I host these weekly with my team)
  • Goals - for more formal tracking
  • Product Health Dashboards - we have implemented dashboards that track key metrics, and information for each product. Including “top of mind” topics etc.
5 Likes

I found this to be really helpful as I think about how to manage a team:

5 Likes

Especially “Processes are expectations made explicit”

What processes need to be in place so that your team understands your expectations for keeping you informed so that you can keep them aligned.

Hope this helps.

5 Likes

From my experience, i can say that, leading with “I need you to keep me updated so I can explain what you’re doing to other people” is not the best phrasing - even if it’s part of the reason. What say?

4 Likes

It’s important to audit but 1:1’s tend to be too informal and lightweight to make for an effective audit. What I like to do is look for key milestones or inflection points in a program or project and ask for a review at that time. At Amazon, this would mean the PM would prepare a 6-page narrative document to provide background and data, lay out options, and make a recommendation. This gave a leader enough I formation to provide useful feedback or course correction, understand what the obstacles were, and generally informed everyone at the review. If necessary, a leader could then ask for follow-ups to go deeper on certain areas or action items.

Finally, one piece of advice I learned from Jeff Wilke was to “vary the depth and frequency of your audits.” If PM’s know an audit may be coming they’re more likely to keep on their toes and keep things moving.

3 Likes

@Nathan, Good piece of advice, and am sure you’re following those too.

@Marco, That was really a very helpful article. Have just quick read it, will go through it thoroughly later during the day. Thanks for sharing.

@Michael, That was a very good tip you shared. Auditing will definitely keep them on their toes. Thanks for the wonderful advice.

2 Likes

That article that @MarcoSilva shared is really great, definitely worth a read! A couple of things that I do to manage PMs and their projects:

Weekly Team Meeting
I have a very structured 60 minute meeting every Monday with my PMs. Here’s our agenda:

  • Announcements & Wins (we usually spend 10 minutes sharing wins, what we did over the weekend and general bonding)
  • Project Updates: general updates about their project, the current phase, status, next step. This is usually quick and highlights important items.
  • Project Triage: team comes prepared with any issues or concerns and we triage together. We can either make decisions here or set up time to dig in later.
  • Action Steps: we review action steps from last week and create new ones if needed. This holds us all accountable.
  • Retro: we do a quick retro at the end to get feedback and learn how we can improve.

Personal OKR/Goals
I also set personal goals for PMs that can be worked on directly within a project. So we’ll typically discuss these at 1:1s.1:1s

I believe that the direct report owns the 1:1s. I ask my PMs to come prepared with whatever they want to talk about and review. Some time is dedicated to personal goals and general life/work updates. The rest of the time is up to them. I encourage them to bring concerns that they want to talk through or ask me for feedback on a decision they made. This is mostly personal development time but I also get a good amount of insight into their products, teams, and how they are thinking and making decisions.

Project Milestones
We usually have a few project milestones that I’ll ask about and request an informal presentation.

Project Health Reports
Our PMs do weekly PHRs. These are helpful to get an idea of where things are at and the health of the project. But honestly, I usually know about all of those things by the time they are published.

1 Like

Something I forgot to add earlier - in our team meetings we use Mural and do “async updates” where everyone pops a few notes about what they’re working on and a personal update.

This works well for us as doing a round robin in the meeting itself is very time consuming and we are global so folks can add the updates in their own time ahead of the meeting.

1 Like

That’s a good point @Nathan! We use Notion for our weekly meetings and that document is created the Friday before so everybody has time to add their details in there beforehand. This helps speed up meetings because I can skip some of the expected updates and items and jump into more meaningful conversation. Also, we keep the history of each meeting in notion.