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I was recently elevated to program manager
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I was recently elevated to program manager, so in addition to pm'ing our primary product development project, I also have 3 direct reports who are pm's. As Program Manager I am responsible for all projects so I have to dedicate some of my time to staying in tune at a high level of all of our projects. Additionally these are new PM's so there is some training and guidance associated with each person. This has caused some significant bandwidth issues for me. Wanted to ask for people's thoughts on what percentage of my time should be considered for the Program manager aspect of my position.
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The problem to give you an answer is: it depends on what your organization has defined as program manager role. Let me explain. In my actual work place we have three levels of program managers. If you read the scope of work for each level you will find it is quit different and it will impact on the amount of time needed. Obviously taking into account we are talking about an agreement about what a program manager is into the basic definition. I am writting the last because you can see outside there program managers doing micro management or project management.
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Luis -

The challenge is that you are actually multitasking across three separate roles: program manager, project manager, and manager of project managers. Most of the programs I've been involved with require 100% of a program manager's attention until most of the component projects are well underway so something's got to give...

Kiron
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I concur with the comments here.
Program manager normally focus on strategy and implementation, and how to delegate the projects appropriately. Anyway it depends on the organizational culture.
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Hi Luis , the scenario that you have listed is not uncommon in organizations.

But if you want to get deeper into your Program Management Role, I am afraid to say that you have to relinquish the day to day running of your Product Development project to someone else.

You can off course be there for High level guidance and keep a high level understanding of the scope and progress like you would for the other projects led by the project managers reporting to you.

You would then be in a position to coach and mentor your Project Managers and at the same time do the real program management stuff, focusing on continuous improvement in Project delivery, managing the pipeline, alleviate resource bottlenecks across projects, develop stronger business relationships with portfolio managers, etc
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It's the art of splicing one's time across the roles. Bandwidth issues will always be the case for managers at that level, if they are doing their job correctly.
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Assuming you're going to be stuck in this situation for a while, I suggest you spend time training up your most capable report to oversee the work of the other two (assuming any of your reports have the acumen to do so). That will give you more bandwidth in the long run.
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Luis,

I have rarely see people handling two role nicely. Usually one is left behind.

Get someone to take more and more of your role of PM, trainer's the person.
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Hi Luis,
I have been in a similar situation. For me there were a couple key things that helped. You will need to play a balancing act for a while and it is nearly impossible to balance all 3 roles at once (Project Manager, Program Manager, and Manager). In my mind the best value for your time is going to be investing in training up your people because at the end of the day, no matter how good you are, your team of people can accomplish more than you alone. You may have to do some level setting with your management, Sponsors and key stakeholders that you are giving your team new responsibilities so things may not be exactly the way they were with you in the lead but you are still involved as you're getting your team up to speed. Enlist them as partners - if you ask for their help in this, most of the time they will be incredibly patient and helpful in the process.

A few specific tactical strategies that I employed:
- Take the time to write down and track everything you are managing - especially any small or ad hoc projects - these add up and suck up a lot of your time so they're important to know
-Look at your list. Is there anything that your team doesn't need to be involved in anymore? If so, this is a great time to gracefully exit yourself
- Next figure out any projects you are working on that you can immediately assign to a member of your team with minimal training/engagement; transition as quickly as possible
- Take at least 1 member of your team to EVERY meeting you attend. It's a great learning experience for them, you have an extra set of ears and someone to help you with follow-ups. This is also a great way to prepare them to take over specific things for you
- Assign one member of your team to every project you are working on. Even if you still attend and run the meetings and direct work, let them do as much as possible on the project. This will take things off of your plate and help them to get prepared to take over.
- DO NOT do anything that you personally do not need to be doing. Need to schedule a meeting? write meeting minutes? follow-up with someone? - have your team member assigned to the project doing it. It may feel uncomfortable at first like you are giving your "grunt work" to your team but at this point every single minute you have counts and spending any of it doing something that someone else could do easily is both robbing you of time and robbing your team member the opportunity of learning by doing.
- If feasible, enlist one of your team members to help you with the program management day to day (you may even be able to borrow a department admin or an analyst from peer to help with this); there are a lot of more administrative aspects to program management tracking, reporting, financials, etc. that are important but can be extremely time consuming. having someone to help with intake, reporting, and administrative work for the program will free up a lot of your time.
-Don't focus on perfecting your program until you have your team up and running. Your program needs feeding and caring so you cannot neglect it, but don't try to reinvent it or perfect it (say overhaul your intake process or streamline your reporting) until you get your team to the point where their training wheels are off; you may have some short term pain of an imperfect program framework, but getting your team going is more critical in the short term
- Set up a really good team operating model. Figure out a good format that will work to get updates from your team, track and monitor progress and provide feedback. For me this meant weekly/biweekly meetings with each team member for which they'd send me, in advance, written updates on every project they were working on plus biweekly team meetings. I'd also attend specific project meetings regularly with each of them and then as many other meetings as I could (at least until they were fully comfortable without me). When attending the meetings, my role wasn't to facilitate but to listen and provide feedback to them. Occasionally I'd get involved to help them thorough a particularly sticky dialog, but for the most part I'd really focus on letting them run everything and just provide feedback.
- Make sure you know your manager's expectations. You are juggling multiple roles right now. Make sure your manager has an appreciation for this and the time it will take you to get things in order. Understand what they are expecting from you and negotiate if it's unreasonable.
- Enlist help from your manger and peers where you can. When I had many new team members at once, I asked colleagues to serve as mentors. Certain meetings that my manager or a trusted senior colleague attended regularly I would ask them to serve as "back-up" for my newer team member engaged in the meeting so I could attend to something else. My sponsors and stakeholders I'd engaged in providing feedback to me on anything not going well (or not) so that I could provide feedback to my team members.

Hopefully some of these strategies are helpful to you. Its a tough but extremely rewarding role that you are in. If there is anything I can assist with, please let me know.
...
1 reply by Sante Vergini
Feb 01, 2018 5:22 PM
Sante Vergini
...
Great advice here Lena.
Network:14018



Feb 01, 2018 9:53 AM
Replying to Lena Wiedemann
...
Hi Luis,
I have been in a similar situation. For me there were a couple key things that helped. You will need to play a balancing act for a while and it is nearly impossible to balance all 3 roles at once (Project Manager, Program Manager, and Manager). In my mind the best value for your time is going to be investing in training up your people because at the end of the day, no matter how good you are, your team of people can accomplish more than you alone. You may have to do some level setting with your management, Sponsors and key stakeholders that you are giving your team new responsibilities so things may not be exactly the way they were with you in the lead but you are still involved as you're getting your team up to speed. Enlist them as partners - if you ask for their help in this, most of the time they will be incredibly patient and helpful in the process.

A few specific tactical strategies that I employed:
- Take the time to write down and track everything you are managing - especially any small or ad hoc projects - these add up and suck up a lot of your time so they're important to know
-Look at your list. Is there anything that your team doesn't need to be involved in anymore? If so, this is a great time to gracefully exit yourself
- Next figure out any projects you are working on that you can immediately assign to a member of your team with minimal training/engagement; transition as quickly as possible
- Take at least 1 member of your team to EVERY meeting you attend. It's a great learning experience for them, you have an extra set of ears and someone to help you with follow-ups. This is also a great way to prepare them to take over specific things for you
- Assign one member of your team to every project you are working on. Even if you still attend and run the meetings and direct work, let them do as much as possible on the project. This will take things off of your plate and help them to get prepared to take over.
- DO NOT do anything that you personally do not need to be doing. Need to schedule a meeting? write meeting minutes? follow-up with someone? - have your team member assigned to the project doing it. It may feel uncomfortable at first like you are giving your "grunt work" to your team but at this point every single minute you have counts and spending any of it doing something that someone else could do easily is both robbing you of time and robbing your team member the opportunity of learning by doing.
- If feasible, enlist one of your team members to help you with the program management day to day (you may even be able to borrow a department admin or an analyst from peer to help with this); there are a lot of more administrative aspects to program management tracking, reporting, financials, etc. that are important but can be extremely time consuming. having someone to help with intake, reporting, and administrative work for the program will free up a lot of your time.
-Don't focus on perfecting your program until you have your team up and running. Your program needs feeding and caring so you cannot neglect it, but don't try to reinvent it or perfect it (say overhaul your intake process or streamline your reporting) until you get your team to the point where their training wheels are off; you may have some short term pain of an imperfect program framework, but getting your team going is more critical in the short term
- Set up a really good team operating model. Figure out a good format that will work to get updates from your team, track and monitor progress and provide feedback. For me this meant weekly/biweekly meetings with each team member for which they'd send me, in advance, written updates on every project they were working on plus biweekly team meetings. I'd also attend specific project meetings regularly with each of them and then as many other meetings as I could (at least until they were fully comfortable without me). When attending the meetings, my role wasn't to facilitate but to listen and provide feedback to them. Occasionally I'd get involved to help them thorough a particularly sticky dialog, but for the most part I'd really focus on letting them run everything and just provide feedback.
- Make sure you know your manager's expectations. You are juggling multiple roles right now. Make sure your manager has an appreciation for this and the time it will take you to get things in order. Understand what they are expecting from you and negotiate if it's unreasonable.
- Enlist help from your manger and peers where you can. When I had many new team members at once, I asked colleagues to serve as mentors. Certain meetings that my manager or a trusted senior colleague attended regularly I would ask them to serve as "back-up" for my newer team member engaged in the meeting so I could attend to something else. My sponsors and stakeholders I'd engaged in providing feedback to me on anything not going well (or not) so that I could provide feedback to my team members.

Hopefully some of these strategies are helpful to you. Its a tough but extremely rewarding role that you are in. If there is anything I can assist with, please let me know.
Great advice here Lena.
Network:281



Person is really good at only one at a time. If more than one role at time there will be compromise. In Multi tasking there is a switch over time and lack of concentration.

Delegate as much as possible and keep proper monitoring/tracking in place this will ease your work. There is life outside of work as well.

Getting right people at right place is the solution.

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