Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)

🔥

Back to resources

The art of managing up

Mission / Vision / Charter
Managing Up
Internal Communication
Strategy
Stakeholders
Cross-Functional Collaboration

19 November, 2021

James Engelbert
James Engelbert

Head of Product at BT

James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, shares how managing up is all about being an excellent manager to bring the best out of a team.

Problem

I have worked on lots of different assignments, switched teams, and communicated with many individuals in my career. At one point in time, I had taken over a team that had lost confidence with some of their senior stakeholders in terms of direction. This team didn't have a clear vision or roadmap or way to measure success so there were questions around the money required to run the team and product.

There was a challenge with product stakeholders (the investor) brand, marketing and interested parties (consulted and informed). We needed them all on the same page so the team could move forward in a positive way.

Actions taken

To begin with, I figured out who the real stakeholders were and what roles they played. Instead of getting wrapped up in the noise, we had to figure out who the main actors were so that we could provide the correct information at the right time.

Once we had the RACI completed, it was time to co-create the vision & strategy. It was important to involve everyone so we could figure out the goals stakeholders had and how the product would help them achieve them. We also wanted to ensure everyone was on the same page in terms of where this product would be positioned in the market and what success looked like. Together we broke it down into short-term goals and a long-term vision.

Since the teams felt that there was not much collaboration, we made it a priority to share information as we released new features and discover new insights. Being upfront with their expectations 一 being clear on what we were going to do, what was to be left on the table, and the implications of that 一 was the key. Ongoing sharing of how what we were creating for customers was tracking towards goals which we agreed in the initial vision and strategy workshops.

This had a double benefit, not only were stakeholders more aligned but the product team felt like there was more structure around what they were building. It was also beneficial in budget discussions with product leadership (the investor).

In terms of how to communicate cross-functionally, what worked well was recording videos during virtual meetings. Traditionally, some product leads would do a weekly report, but what we did was record a quick 3 minute video with the team to give everyone who was interested.

The video doesn't have to be long, in fact it's better if it's a quick, brief revision on what they have been working on. It gives reassurance that things are progressing in the right direction and opens the communication for debate or validation.

Lessons learned

  • Never let communication become a challenge for your team. When creating a product which has multiple stakeholders. Working towards a common goal and communication is the key; communicating and oversharing information would overrun the challenge.
  • Collaboration is essential for companies to break down silos and work together instead of working against each other.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Delegate successfully as a first time manager of Product Managers

24 November

Andrew Tsui, a Product Leader, works to build great teams that are independent, demonstrate mastery of their domain, and fully commit to their purpose.

Scaling Team
Building A Team
Delegate
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Psychological Safety
Cross-Functional Collaboration
New Manager
Andrew Tsui

Andrew Tsui

Director of Product at Startup

Specialization vs. Wearing Many Hats

23 November

William Bajzek, Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital, compares and contrasts a team structure that utilized siloed skill sets and one where everybody’s duties overlap at the edges.

Internal Communication
Collaboration
William Bajzek

William Bajzek

Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital

Why Overloading Product Teams Never Work

23 November

Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi, VP of Product at Evermos, shares how he identified the symptoms of his overworked product team and worked towards defining conflicting priorities.

Managing Expectations
Product Team
Deadlines
Stakeholders
Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi

Adi Purwanto Sujarwadi

VP of Product at Evermos

Mergers and Acquisitions: Collaboration tools hold a key to bringing cultures together

23 November

Neelima Annam, Sr Director Information Technology at Outmatch, shares how something as minor as collaboration tools can be a BIG issue during mergers and acquisitions.

Acquisition / Integration
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Neelima Annam

Neelima Annam

Sr. Director Information Technology at Outmatch HCM

What it takes to become a great product manager

19 November

James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, shares his deep understanding of the traits of a successful product manager and how to get aligned with the organization’s path to success.

Product Team
Personal Growth
Leadership
Strategy
James Engelbert

James Engelbert

Head of Product at BT

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.