Click above to play either the audio-only episode or video episode in a new window.
In today's conversation, we are delving into one particular area of project management – mastering the essential soft skills. Soft skills, often dubbed as 'power skills,' form the backbone of project management, shaping the culture, ethics, motivation, and creativity in a team. As the world of project management continues to evolve, the emphasis on these skills has grown significantly. Yet, despite their importance, they often remain underappreciated and underdeveloped.
Click above to play either the audio-only episode or video episode in a new window.
If you are like most project managers out there, then you are likely managing more than one project. You have more than one ball in the air. You are juggling.
That means you will have to divide your attention between multiple projects. Keeping an eye on each of the balls as they are flying through the air. Experience helps. Both with keeping three balls in the air and also with making sure you successfully complete all of the projects you are assigned to.
Well... you have come to the right place because over the last decade, I have published 458 episodes here on The PM Podcast, and most of them qualify for free PMI PDUs.
In this recording of a live stream we are joined by Elizabeth Harrin soon launches a new course on Mastering Multiple Projects. And we are picking her brain today for tips, tricks, and good practices.
Feeling disconnected from your team? Is getting them all together more like herding cats than project management? Social intelligence concepts (the connections part of emotional intelligence) can help you connect and keep your team all moving in the same direction.
This interview with Kim Wasson was recorded at the PMI® Global Conference 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. We discuss the concepts of her interactive workshop in which she helped the attendees develop strong connected leadership, handle problems gracefully and create and support effective teams using principles from the world of social intelligence translated into project management tools and techniques. They were able to leave the session armed with tools to support their project manager coaching and mentoring back in the workplace, with their colleagues.
From the interview you will learn how to use social intelligence tools to build teams and keep members connected and engaged and how to utilize social intelligence tools to achieve balance among the project dimensions of people, product and process. Note that social intelligence tools are not the same as social media for project managers, although there is definitely value in social media tools too.
People from so many different backgrounds joined Kim's talk and benefited from what she shared. From people who fill the role of project manager in SAFe agile environment, through to people managing multiple projects, there is so much to take away from today's interview. And without further ado, let's listen in.
Rich Maltzman (LinkedIn Profile) and Jim Stewart (LinkedIn Profile) are back on the program today to talk about Goblins… no… wait… [furiously checks notes]... Ahhh… no. Sorry. My fault. No goblins today.
Instead, the focus is on preparing a facilitated project planning meeting. We look at resolving any looming unaddressed issues before the meeting starts, how to make sure that the financial investment of a planning meeting actually pays off, and then Rich and Jim talk us through about 8 actionable activities they recommend you do in order to plan the meeting right. These tips are important to get the most out of your meeting so you come out of it with enough useful information to create a realistic project plan.
Planning your project right from the start is a big factor for future success. It’s definitely not everything, but doing the planning right goes a long way. And most planning is done in meetings. And that again means that you really want to make sure that those meetings deliver.
We have chosen to focus on chapter 6 “The Zen of Facilitation”. We talk about what is wrong with the way many planning meetings are being facilitated today, what facilitation and facilitative style means, and we have many good tips for you. And yes… we will talk about the goblins.
What you'll learn in this interview will help you put together a better and more accepted project plan.
Lastly here is what one reviewer on Amazon wrote: This book read [sic] better than a textbook as it was full of humor and step-by-step tips for immediate application. The authors provide insight on Agile project planning, tips on facilitating status meetings and lessons learned meetings, and even their appendices provide additional information on topics such as Project Management 101, meeting war stories, and access to their templates.
For your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam get PMP Training on your phone from The PM PrepCast:
Margaret Meloni, MBA, PMP
Here are some buzzwords for you:
Multi-generational teams. Generational shifts. Inter- and intra-generational communication. Multi-generational workplace. Millennials vs baby boomers. I think you get the idea... right? We’re here today to talk about how old I am... :-) Just kidding... we’re here to talk about generational sensitivity and diversity and how to make the best of it in project management.
And in order to explore this generational topic we turn to our "soft side expert" Margaret Meloni. She has been an IT and project manager for some time and has had the pleasure to work with people from many generations. And I’m not saying she’s old either...
Becoming better at project management and by extension also becoming a better project manager does not necessarily mean learning about and then also implementing the latest tools, techniques or methodologies. Instead, it can simply mean that you start paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally. That’s mindfulness.
Mindfulness as a business practice and leadership tool has seen a significant increase in press coverage lately. It originally started out as a means for improving yourself and your interactions with others but you will find that many leadership articles in the large business journals will make reference to it.
And so we are very glad to welcome Margaret Meloni to look at Mindfulness for Project Managers with us today. We will give you a definition, discuss the benefits, but most importantly we go through a number of familiar project management situations to see how mindfulness will help us improve and become better leaders.
For your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam use PMP exam prep on your phone with The PM PrepCast:
Jordan Kyriakidis, CEO of QRA Corp
One thing that every project manager notices over the course of her or his career is this: We begin with managing relatively simple projects. Here we learn about the theory of project management, its good practices and how to apply them. And as we get better we are assigned to bigger and more important projects.
But in recent years you may have begun to notice that even though your projects may not have become any bigger their complexity has never the less steadily been increasing. In other words, if you took a project you managed 5 years ago and repeated it today in exactly the same way then the one thing that would definitely change is the complexity caused by an increase in interdependencies.
And that’s where Jordan Kyriakidis (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordankyriakidis/) and I are starting this interview. We are exploring why complexity is increasing, whether it is actually real or just a perceived problem, and what you can do about it.
This interview is 29 minutes long. This means that you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it, because in order to claim 0.50 PDUs the interview must be 30 minutes long. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read Jordan's related white paper, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!
For your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam use PMP training on your phone with The PM PrepCast:
Karin Brünnemann, PMP
Are you currently managing a multicultural project?
Well, no matter if you answered “yes” or “no” to this, today’s interview with Karin Brünnemann (https://www.linkedin.com/in/karinbrunnemann) is for you. We will look at what culture is, how cultural differences can lead to conflict, and how culture affects the various dimension of conflict on projects that we learned about when we last spoke to Karin. Most importantly, we will of course also discuss approaches for conflict resolution.
So… if you answered “Yes” to my questions “Are you currently managing a multicultural project?”, then you are going to learn a lot about culture, conflict and what to do about it.
And if you answered “No”, then you will learn that your answer was in fact wrong and that you should have answered “Yes” in the first place. You are in fact managing a multi-cultural project even if you don't think you are.
Conflict in project management is inevitable. In fact they say that the only way to not have a project management conflict is to have a one-person project. And even then, some people have a tendency to argue with themselves.
Karin Brünnemann (https://www.linkedin.com/in/karinbrunnemann) recently gave a presentation on the topic of Managing Conflict in Projects to the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Slovakia Chapter. And because it was such a success she suggested that we bring it to you as well!
Karin’s presentation and our interview is full of solid advice and best practices you can apply to the conflicts you will inevitably encounter. We will discuss:
Definition & Characteristics of Conflict
Conflict in the Context of Project Management
How to Analyse a Conflict
How to Manage Conflict.
A big part of the interview is actually focused on that last part -- the actual project management conflict resolution. We are, however, not going to talk about conflict resolution on multicultural projects. That’s reserved for next week.
Before we dive into the podcast interview, one more important point: we don't talk about specific project methodologies or approaches in any depth. For example, we aren't going to cover the role of project manager in SAFe agile, but project managers in that position would still find conflict management techniques useful to understand. Conflict doesn't discriminate! Regardless of the method or approach you are using, you are still going to find that stakeholders clash from time to time.
Presentation Slide Deck
Karin has made her presentation slides available for listeners of The PM Podcast. Download the file here:
Congress presenters reveal their most important interpersonal skill
Last year at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California I recorded an all time high of 14 interviews. They have all been published over the past few months and you’ve probably heard some or all of them. But what you don’t know is what happened once each interview was complete.
I pressed the recording button one more time and asked each of my guests the following question: Which is the interpersonal skill that you attribute the most of our success in your career to? In other words, what skill has helped you most on your projects when you interact with others?
And today you are going to get all the answers. In one nice mashup. Here are all the presenters in the order you will hear their answers
Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Kristine Hayes Munson
Cyndi Snyder Dionisio
Oh, and spoiler alert... the answer that I received most often was "Relationships".
It's not a surprise to me, a this comes up time and time again in the things we see on social media for project managers, and you'll have picked up the trend in my past interview. Whether you are leading a PMO, directing a huge project, taking part in an IT software development initiative, or working in the role of project manager in SAFe agile, or any other project role, relationships are the things that power our success. Project manager coaching and mentoring can only get you so far. Building effective working relationships with your colleagues is what really makes the difference. But I have a feeling you might have already known that!
Need Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam training? Have you considered PMP exam prep on your phone?
Kim Wasson and Cornelius Fichtner
At its core project management is all about effectively leading your team. Therefore emotional intelligence for project managers and project leaders can be just as important (if not more) than knowing how to interpret the latest earned value data.
Just one unmotivated person on your team can bring everything crashing down. Unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and lack of motivation are highly contagious; ‘one person’ quickly turns into an unhappy and possibly dysfunctional team.
We're all focused on getting the process right and there’s no doubt that process is important. What many of us don’t take into account is that the success of most projects depends largely on the teams actually doing the work Process is important but it’s not going to build anything on its own – it’s a team of satisfied, competent people working together who will actually deliver a product.
The people side of the project management equation is critical. Managing effectively requires the ability to understand individuals and teams, establish working relationships, manage goals, and motivate team members. Effective tools and techniques discover what makes the team members and the team itself tick, to communicate effectively with many different people both one-on-one and as a group, and to generally balance the process part of the equation with the people part of the equation are critical to project success.
This interview is 24 minutes long. This means that you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the white paper on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!
Preparing for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam? Get Affordable PMP training on your phone, tablet or PC:
Kristine Hayes Munson and Cornelius Fichtner
Sharp influencing skills are a major factor that help project managers succeed. This interview about leading without authority with Kristine Hayes Munson was recorded at the 2016 PMI® Global Congress in San Diego, California. We discuss her paper and presentation "Getting Things Done -- Influence Without Authority". Here is the abstract:
"Project managers frequently face the dilemma of how to accomplish the project’s work without having any functional authority. Resources assigned to the project report to someone else who writes performance appraisals and recommends pay increases. In addition, resources may be assigned to multiple projects with competing priorities. Project managers must rely on their ability to influence others to get work done in a timely and thorough fashion.
This paper explores the influence cycle and the associated skills to be used by project managers in order to get things done using influence rather than authority. Five stages comprise the influence cycle: (1) prepare, (2) ask, (3) trust, (4) follow up, and (5) give back."
The paper concludes that in regards to leadership without authority "Developing influence skills is hard work and takes conscious effort. The influence cycle is designed to be repeated for each project in order to help us as project managers continue to improve our influence skills. Our success as project managers and the success of our projects depends on our ability to use influence to get things done".
We spend most of our waking hours at work, yet for many among us the time spent there is unrewarding, unfulfilling, and often just unpleasant. If that sounds familiar, then we can help.
Today we are going to be talking about Enlightened Project Management with Joe Drammissi, PMP (http://enlightenedpm.com/about). At first, this sounds like a method that comes straight out of a new age textbook, but it is in fact a worthwhile concept that helps us project managers not only make a positive difference, but also puts us at the leading edge of change. So keep on listening!
In our interview, Joe and I talk about what enlightened project management is but then quickly talk about the traits that an enlightened project managers has. We review what such a PM strives to do, believes in and how she or he works with stakeholders.
We close out the interview by learning how EPM is applied on a project manager's day-to-day work, and Joe gives us a technique that is easy to apply to get us started -- all based on his book 101 Tips for the Enlightened Project Manager.
This interview with Neal Whitten was recorded at the 2015 PMI® Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance". Here is the paper's abstract:
If you have difficulty in juggling the demands of your job and your non-work life, you’re not alone. Many people feel like their lives are overcommitted and see no relief in sight. Nowadays, work-life balance can seem like an unrealistic objective and can seem more elusive than ever.
I have personally wrestled with my own work-life balance issues for most of my adult life, but—as a senior-aged person—I have learned a massive amount of knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom, about the highly important subject of finding a satisfactory harmony across all aspects of life. I have also read the research and musings from many valuable contributors that have opened my eyes even wider on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. My mission here is to sift through the data and present to you meaningful information that can help you to not only better understand your work-life balance, but can also give you ideas that can help you to achieve the integration that is most important to you.
This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast for the PMI-ACP® Exam:
Margaret Meloni - Project Management Coach
When you think of your project manager skills, then “compassion” is probably not the first word that comes to mind. You would probably first list some other hard project management tools and techniques like your scheduling abilities or completing your projects on scope and on budget.
And only if you keep adding words to this project management skills list will you eventually come to terms like conflict management, team building, empathy and compassion.
Margaret Meloni says that we project managers should value compassion much more than we do.
If we are supposed to use compassion as one of our project management soft skills then we have to first define what it is, how it relates to project management and hear examples of how to use it on our projects. And that’s exactly what you are going to get from Margaret’s interview.
But the most important question that I have asked margaret is this: If compassion is truly so important for me as a project manager, how can I see quantifiable results on my projects?
Generally speaking there are six leadership styles: authoritative, democratic, affiliative, pace setting, commanding and coaching. Each one of these has its time and place.
But for you and me as project leaders, project management coaching should be at the top of our list. After all, it is the people working on our projects who get things done, so we want to unlock their potential.
PM PrepCast, Agile PrepCast, PM Exam Simulator, PDU Podcast, PM Podcast are marks of OSP International LLC.
PMI, PMBOK, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CAPM, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, and PMI-PBA are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.