#38: 5 Essential Questions for 1:1s (for PMMs)
How to deepen the conversation with your manager
Have you ever left a 1:1 meeting with your boss feeling like it was a complete waste of time?
Maybe you walked away with more items on your to-do list. Or perhaps you shared a challenge but didn’t reach a solution.
If 1:1s feel more like an obligation than a constructive session with your manager, you’re not alone. It’s easy to place blame on the manager, but as an employee, we each have a role to play as well.
This is known as the art of managing up, and it’s one of the most critical skills to develop. If you want to take control of your product marketing career, today’s edition is just for you.
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5 Questions to Bookmark for Your Next 1:1
Product marketing is experiencing a surge in popularity. Demand for PMM roles is growing and gone are the days of the solo PMM - more often than not I’m seeing PMM teams of 3+.
But, one impact of this rapid growth is the promotion of first-time managers. As we covered last week, few companies provide management training to their people leaders which means first-time managers are often left to figure things out on their own. And this includes how to run 1:1s.
Managers are busy, and it’s easy for 1:1 meetings to quickly become about what’s important to them, rather than what you need to be successful in your role. This can be true for even the most empathetic and experienced of leaders.
If your current 1:1s are leaving you feeling unsupported or in need of something more, I’m here to encourage you to steer and shape the meeting yourself!
Here are five questions you can incorporate into your next 1:1 to enrich the conversation.
Given my current workload, what should I be prioritizing right now, and can you help me understand why? Is there anything I should be removing from my plate?
Your 1:1 is a great space to recalibrate your priorities based on shifts within the business. Just because you were assigned a project at the beginning of the quarter doesn’t mean it’s still the most important initiative now. Check in regularly with your manager to ensure you’re focused on the highest priority work.
What’s the most important thing you’re discussing as a management team right now?
This question will help you tap into some of the most important conversations happening about the future of the business. Is churn increasing? Are there worries about a new competitor? Getting early line of sight on these topics will help you surface opportunities where you can join the conversation and solution proactively, rather than wait for it to trickle down.
From your perspective, what is my greatest value to you? To the business? To our team and my peers?
Identifying your “secret sauce” or “superpowers” is one of the most important things you can do to scale your career. But, we often view ourselves differently than others do. This question will help you get a new perspective on your perceived value to those around you. (I ran this question in a 360 review and was shocked by the findings!)
What are your priorities over the next 30 days? What can I do to help you with this?
Your manager is probably busy (and exhausted). As a leader, folks rarely check in on you to see if you’re ok. This question provides you with a great opportunity to show your manager that you care and are there to help - even if it’s outside your scope. I promise you they will appreciate the gesture of kindness.
What’s one trend you’re following in the market right now? How do you think this will impact our 90-day strategy?
Tap into your manager’s mind and uncover what they’re curious about. Not only can this help shape your own research, but you may be able to contribute meaningful insight into a topic they’re interested in. Again, understanding the trends management are tracking today will help you plan better for tomorrow.
Here’s your packing list for camp this week: