Advice for New Managers and Leaders
Some small bits of practical advice I give to people starting in their management journey
Hiring your mid-level product leadership is hard and increasingly incredibly important. There are a lot of people who are very senior PMs but who have never managed. There are also a lot of very junior managers who need to scale up.
One of the biggest steps is going from a senior IC PM to a manager of other PMs. Casey Winters and Fareed Mosavat did a great job outlining this in great detail: https://www.reforge.com/blog/crossing-the-canyon-product-manager-to-product-leader
While I don’t have much to add as I thought their article was spot on, there are a few bits of practical advice I give to new managers on my teams:
Have empathy. Remember that as stressed as you probably feel as a first time manager, that stress and frustration also is felt and passed on to your direct reports. Have empathy for them in that situation and make sure they know how you work.
Be honest with them about your management level and that you want constant feedback to improve. Let your team know you are learning too and that the feedback they can provide helps you to get better at managing them as well.
Resist the urge to micro-manage. Most first time managers feel the need to micro-manage because they want all their work to look great in their first manager role. Resist this urge - find a way to set expectations through KPIs/OKRS/Metrics/Goals with your team and have regular 1-1s and checkins, but don't make it part of your job to review every single thing they are doing.
Build systems to create this trust. Make sure that goals are clear, have a way to check in on progress at a regular cadence, and create systems where you will have an update on progress and where they can ask for your help and feedback. Resist the urge to jump in and solve problems because that can take away key learnings opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The key for new managers is not acting like they know how to solve every problem or tackle every challenge. Your manager and other experienced managers at the company are there to help you learn how to deal with the many new challenges that will be presented.
Resist the urge to get into the details. You need to be t-shaped and understand details across your team and have enough depth to help them make decisions. But, you should only be going super deep when either a team member needs help or when it’s relevant to the strategy for your group.
Thanks for sharing your insights Barron. Becoming a manager is certainly a paradigm shift. I've referenced this in what I came up with for new engineering managers (which can also apply to Product Management Leaders): https://TalentWhisperers.com/New-Managers