Disclaimer: This post reflects my personal opinion and not that of my employers. Any error is mine and reader discretion is advised

So I wrote a thread on my learnings from 10 months working at Go-Jek. Having always worked at smaller startups it has been a steep learning curve for me and I wanted to help others who are making the same transition as me. Quite a few people found the content useful and hence I am turning it into a blogpost

/start

So it has been 10 months at my current company

After making dozens of mistakes & getting tons of feedback from my manager, here is a thread with my learnings

1/ The most important job of a PM at a big company is communication

Communication means: Communicating up and down, keeping stakeholders in sync, saying the right things at the right time and also creating the right channels for facilitating cross team collaboration

Most of my 1–1s with my manager are around how to improve in all of the above

2/ Learn to filter/layer your message

At a small company everyone knows everyone and there is lesser need for filters. At a bigger org the focus should be on reducing misunderstandings, layering your message, thinking who exactly is the real recipient of your message and writing accordingly

Here is an amazing post by Boz on the subject:Communication is the job

I have to admit I am pretty bad at this having worked only in smaller startups till now

We cannot help but communicate and our failure to embrace that reality can leave our teams in a state of information insecurity. Instead, we need to own our responsibility and be proactive.

One of the advice someone at a big VC firm gave me after I left my last job was: ‘Manas you are good at your job but you are super raw. You need polish. Go work at a bigger place like Linkedin/ Amazon where you have to learn how to work with dozens of people on a daily basis’

3/ Pause, calm down and reflect

My boss gave me a rule of thumb: Anytime you want to rant/ be brutal with someone just pause for an hour. Calm down. Think whether you really need to write/say that and if you still feel the same then only write it

4/ 2/3 rule of likability

As a manager if you are rated 2/3 by your team it is good. 3/3 means you are probably being a pushover or optimising on likability.

1/3 probably means you are a shitty manager. So 2/3 is probably the sweet spot

5/ Share visibility

You need to share visibility on your work not just for the sake of your own growth but also so that your team gets credit for their work and their growth does not suffer

So celebrate small wins. Share release updates company wide, give credit

6/ Praise publicly but give feedback in private

I do both publicly. Being someone who appreciates feedback & wants to improve I have no issue with public praise or criticism. But I am learning that not everyone is comfortable with that

Again something I am trying to learn

7/ If there is not a written commitment then there is no commitment

Have all meeting logs in mail or added to the spec. Have all tasks assigned to specific people and a timeline

If there is no timeline then get a commitment for getting a timeline

8/ Use DACI for all big decisions. Make it part of the product development process. Add DACI to your product specs

All my specs have a DACI section

9/ If you need someone’s time just talk to them and block their calendar

Verbal plans to meet never happens in a big company where people have too many high priority things to focus on

10/ Do 1–1s

You will discover a lot of things which get never mentioned in planning meetings, sprints. Have a written doc if possible with your peer/manager/reportee

11/ Do retrospectives

We do weekly retros during our IPMs. There is a written doc for Retros where there are 4 sections: Velocity, What went well last week, What did not go well, Action items for all things which did not go well

Action items that come out during Retros need to have PICs and a timeline

Weekly retros are for the stream I lead. We also do Quarterly and Half yearly retros for the entire transport org

12/ Don’t assume 1–1s, retros happen by themselves

Put a conscious effort on making them happen. No matter how busy I am I try to have bi weekly 1–1s with everyone in my team (around 10 people)

Thursdays are blocked for 1–1s

13/ Don’t leave a meeting without clarity on the next steps

Meetings are a blackhole for productivity. So make sure if you schedule a meeting it is useful for the people who attend and things get closed

Send a MOM after each meeting to attendees

14/ Always remember: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel

2 times in my current company I left a meeting midway because I was frustrated with someone/something and felt I was wasting my time

Maybe my heart was in the right place but my behavior was not fitting for someone who is leading a team. I got the same feedback from my peers.

Again something I am trying to learn and become better that

15/ Build a relationship and trust before your ask

Things in a big company move faster if you have trust and respect of the people you are collaborating with. Be it internal or cross team collaboration work on creating trust first

16/ Write more succinctly. Use fewer words

People at the top have very less time to read long mails. At glance the point of the mail should be clear.

If it is an update mail maybe add [UPDATE] to the email subject. Or Urgent decision required mail then [DECISION] [URGENT]

Something I am learning again. How to be better with written communication.

17/ Block your own calendar with whatever you are working on

When I speak during stand ups and give my yesterday’s update I just have to glance my calendar

18/ If you are giving advice/feedback it should be actionable

Example. You want to give feedback to someone about missing deadlines. Bring a list of projects for which the deadline was missed and then work with that person to improve on delivery. Have clear plan of action

Then follow up on that during subsequent 1–1s

19/ Devs should demo stuff they are working on

Update mails can be either sent by you or them. Let other people in your team get visibility for their work

20/ Over communicate if communication miss is the problem

At bigger orgs bridging communication gaps is a full time job and should be the main focus area of yours as a PM or a Tech Lead

Hence most of the points here were also around that

Thanks for reading

/end

Adding a few more  tips:

  • Make sure that your recommendation is clear when you are presenting something to Management. The worst hero presentations are those where you talk about a bunch of solutions to a problem without clearly highlighting your recommendation. Remember: It is very hard to get Execs’ time and the worst crime is to waste a one-hour meeting making your CEO evaluate all the pros and cons for various options/solutions and having to decide herself

  • Anticipate all possible questions which can come to you during a meeting and prepare their answers. As you grow in your career you don’t want to come off as the guy who does not do his homework

  • Tables in doc are always better than text

  • Have all your MOMs as part of your spec so that during a retro you can do through all the changes that happened as well as major decisions which got taken during a project

  • Don’t go into a meeting without the decision-maker being clear

Something else I wrote recently and you might find useful: How to learn

P.S I tweet interesting stuff here: @manas_saloi