How do you effectively split your attention between contributing individually and coaching your PM's? Do these two priorities ever conflict with each other?
Contributing myself and supporting my team can be at odds with each other. Coaching and supporting my team is always my number one priority. There are times when I simply need to say no and deprioritize things to ensure I have enough time to support my team.
It's important to have open communication with my team about what I am working on, and it's something we talk about during our weekly one on ones. Sometimes someone on my team is interested in something that's on my plate, and they volunteer to help. For example, I was thinking about writing a blog, and when discussing the idea, someone on my team volunteered to write it.
When I find my plate getting overloaded, I consider whether this would be a good opportunity and is aligned with the career goals of the PMs on my team. I recently volunteered to help with some UX research that I later found I don't have time for it anymore. This aligns with a growth area for another PM team on my team, so I brought it up to them, and they were excited about taking that on.
It depends on the role you want to play and the need of the company. In my current role given the size of my organization I cannot be an IC on any feature. So you need to decide your need and what you want and based on that decide the split.
My recommendation is to be clear on setting expectations with yourself (and others)- sometimes managers feel like they can IC in "extra time" - it usually comes at the cost of burning out yourself or delivering a sub-par product experience, or both.
As a PM leader, it is imperative to balance individual work and managing teams of PM's.
There are some key tasks I would focus on as an IC such as setting up the right vision/strategy for the entire group, clear business metrics and customer impact that need to be communicated across the organization (and to leadership)
In terms of coaching PM's, I would focus on 3 areas:
Clear team wide priorities and OKR's: make sure the team is focusing on an overall goal to achieve. The way each PM+team might do it may vary but eventually the broader metric or goal should be well thought out and communicated
Feedback and resources to PM's: allow the team to share feedback and updates on their roadmap so that there are regular updates on how everyone is doing on the broader mission. Provide consistent templates for all PM's to utilize to communicate their progress. Make sure the team and individual successes are celebrated.
Blocker removal: address conflicts, resourcing gaps, team member performance, or other issues as they come up.
There will be some inherent conflict in terms of time allocation but eventually coaching the team becomes a priority over individual project areas.
As a manager for PM's, splitting your attention between contributing individually and coaching your product managers can be a challenging task. However, it is important to strike a balance between these two priorities to ensure that both your individual contributions and your team's development are optimized.
One key aspect is managing expectations, setting ground rules and boundaries with your team, aligning with the company's vision and starting with small tasks and growing from there.
There are some differences between Startups and enterprises I can share from my experience.
In a startup environment, usually, there are fewer resources available, and your role may require you to wear multiple hats. In this case, you may need to contribute more individually to ensure that essential tasks are completed. However, you should still prioritize coaching your product managers, as they are crucial to the growth and success of the startup.
In an enterprise setting, there may be more resources available, and you may have a dedicated team of product managers. In this case, your role may focus more on coaching and developing your team, as their success directly impacts the success of the organization.
It's important to prioritize your time and focus on the most critical tasks. When contributing individually, try to focus on tasks that require your specific expertise or decision-making. For coaching your product managers, schedule regular check-ins and provide ongoing feedback and guidance to help them develop their skills.
There may be times when these two priorities conflict with each other, especially if you're faced with a tight deadline or unexpected challenge. In these situations, you may need to adjust your focus to prioritize the most critical task at hand. However, it's important to communicate with your team and ensure that everyone is aligned on the priorities.