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PMMs are typically tasked with a broad scope, balancing both strategic & tactical work and serving as the X-functional glue across multiple teams. How do you combat burnout for your team?

5 Answers
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
1Password VP, Product MarketingFebruary 12

I completely agree that PMMs are highly cross-functional and often broadly scoped. The common trap I’ve seen us fall into is that of “peanut-buttering”, spreading ourselves thin over a broad range of projects. This is the slippery slope that leads to burnout quickly. The 3 things I do to combat this are:

1. Increase delegation: Especially at companies in earlier stages of growth, it is typical for product marketing to take on more than they should because other areas of marketing may not have the resourcing or because processes are undefined and product marketing has to figure it out as they go. But it is critical for PMM to not also become the full-time project manager, copywriter, market researcher, events manager, campaign strategist, etc. (That’s peanut-buttering!) Identifying these resource and process gaps early allows you to bring the right specialists (via FTEs, agencies or contractors) and clarify the critical processes so some of the non-PMM work can be delegated appropriately.


2. Identify and prioritize the highest-impact initiatives: During the quarterly/annual planning cycle, product managers usually generate a list of asks for product marketing. Product marketing should not just translate these asks into their to-do list. Instead, a product marketer needs to read between the lines of the product wishlist and scope initiatives that have maximum scale and impact. (e.g. Instead of a single narrowly scoped research study for the next milestone, should it be a broader research project to enable longer-term market opportunity assessment? Instead of a single product release announcement, should it be a bigger multi-feature launch to help customers see maximum value?) After identifying these 3-5 highest impact initiatives, PMMs need to put a very realistic “can this be done with my existing resources/budget” filter on the projects, while also leaving some headroom in their plans for the inevitable scope creep, and for regular investment in your own professional development. 


3. Explicitly highlight the tradeoffs and align with product: After identifying the initiatives you plan to prioritize, you also need to explicitly state the initiatives you are not prioritizing. (I call these projects as falling “below the cut line.”) Each PMM and product partner needs to understand and align on the trade offs required in order to do the high-priority initiatives well. Once there’s alignment on both the will-dos and won’t-dos, then each team member has a higher likelihood of minimizing peanut-buttering and maximizing impact.

7458 Views
Daniel Waas
Daniel Waas
AppFolio Vice President Product MarketingApril 7
  • Set boundaries and clear expectations with the various stakeholders you work with. Don't commit to crazy timelines. If a crazy timeline is unavoidable, communicate what you will have to trade off. 
  • Create a culture of trust with your team by being your authentic self, being a good listener, and always having your team's back.
  • Build frameworks and processes and communicate them across the org. Follow your process. Build systems for yourself so you don't reinvent the wheel too often.
  • Understand each individual team member. Who are they? What drives them? What are their growth goals? How do they prefer to receive praise? What do they do for fun?
  • Work with each team member to build a plan on how they can achieve their growth goals.
  • Say no to things that don't deliver decent value.
  • Don't send slacks and emails after hours. Schedule them to arrive during working hours.
  • Set expectations with your team on how quickly you expect a response. Make it extra clear in your communication what that expectation is so they don't drop everything to please you when you were just curious or had a random thought to share.
  • Set a good example and don't work around the clock.
  • Reiterate to your team that you want them to have a good work-life balance. If you find them working late, remind them that working overtime is not your expectation.
  • If a team member has trouble prioritizing or leans towards perfectionism and you see it affecting their work-life balance, find a course or workshop for them and invest in their ability to find a good balance (and not burn out).
  • Allow your team to have fun. Actively plan for fun. Have some fun yourself.
  • Consider hiring enough people to get the work done in a normal work week ;-)
418 Views
Candice Sparks
Candice Sparks
Attentive Director of Product MarketingMarch 17

There are a few things that I believe help PMMs to prioritize and manage expectations across the organization.

  1. Creating quarterly and annual plans. These plans should include the top priorities for you and your team, your OKRs, and key projects. Once these plans are set I share them with my key stakeholders (product, marketing, sales, exec) to ensure there's visibility and alignment on what PMM is working on. As new projects or requests come in you can stack rank them against your currently planned projects and agreed OKRs you're focusing on. I like to review these plans on a quarterly basis in case new products or company initiatives have been introduced that may alter your current plan.
  2. Top 3 - In my current role, the executive team does a great job of sharing what their top 3 initiatives or priorities they are working on. Making sure you and your team's top 3 align with what the execs believe to be most important at the time is also crucial to ensure you're prioritizing the right things.
  3. On a personal note for my to-do list, I also like to implement the Eisenhower Matrix: This method involves dividing tasks into four categories: important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance.
637 Views
Roopal Shah
Roopal Shah
Snowflake Head (VP) of Global Sales EnablementJanuary 24

What a great question. One thing I do in almost all my teams is run them in agile sprints - they can be two weeks, three weeks, or monthly depending on the speed of business. As part of this, one thing I ask my teams to do (and they have the autonomy to also not do this if it's a busy time) is to build in "whitespace" - basically planning for the unplanned. This allows them to have some cushion room in their plans to absorb changes as it's impossible to plan for everything in the world. Additionally, I build in fun during the quarters for people to make sure not only do we bond as a team but also take a breather. And ofcourse - encourage PTO and whatever they need to bring their best to work. 

375 Views
Louis Debatte-Monroy
Louis Debatte-Monroy
Adyen Vice President of Product MarketingMay 3

As PMMs we typically see ourselves as the glue, at the center of the Venn diagram between sales, marketing and product.

But this is perhaps what causes us to burnout. We constantly try to "herd the cats" and to be everything to everyone.

Instead, we should see ourselves as part of an ecosystem, where every team has a role to play, and every team has a responsibility to "connect the dots".

Busy is easy. Focus is hard.

Rather than trying to do everything right, focus on the 1-2 strategic projects that can create value for your company by addressing the most pressing issue: Is it to generate leads? Is it to convert those leads into customers? Is it to build the right products?

200 Views
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