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Episode 136: Boost Your Project Management Soft Skills

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Episode 136: Boost Your Project Management Soft SkillsIn the 2009 PM Podcast Listener Survey you told us that you wanted a) More product reviews and b) More PM soft skills. In this episode we combine these two requests in about 30 minutes.

I'm welcoming Margaret Meloni, PMP who has been a guest many times on our program before. And from those interviews you know that Margaret is a great teacher of project management soft skills. In January of 2010 Margaret is offering almost all of her products with up to a 50% discount. So this episode is a combination of a) product review and b) discussion of PM soft skills. We talk about Margaret's products, interjected with a lot of soft skills talk.

In particular, during our discussion Margaret answers the following questions sent in live from Twitter:

  • @bba747: q for margaret: what are her top 3 techniques to quickly identify the motivating agents of project team members?
  • @tcsprasan: Which is the most important soft skill a PM must have?
  • @splett: is there any chance of success in project management without Knowledge - just pm by Social skills? #mm {Note:Margaret's answer to this question is at the very, very, very end of the podcast. So listen all the way to the absolute end.}

And Margaret also gives us an overview of EQ - Emotional Intellingence.

This is the very first time that we are producing a show that has a strong focus on products for you to buy and improve your skills. Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the result.

PM Podcast Episode 136 Transcript

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: This is The Project Management Podcast™. We bring project management topics to beginners and experts. Find us on the web at or send your emails to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to this special episode of The Project Management Podcast™. Special because I am going to combine two results from the 2009 Project Management Podcast Listener Survey into one great episode for you.

If you remember, I did the 2009 Listener Survey a couple of months ago. I had about fifteen questions or so in it and there are a great a number of you responded to that. So thank you very much.

And the two interesting facts that I learned from that survey is: (1) You the listeners want to hear more about project management-related products, reviews and things like that. (2) When it comes to what do you want to hear more about, soft skills for project managers ranks right up there at number three.

Number one was project leadership with 59.8 percent%. Risk management was number two, so to speak, with 59.8%; and then just a tad below that with 58.6% was soft skills for project managers. And then it goes down for the next one to 52%. So these three are very high on your list.

And today, we are going to combine product reviews and soft skills for project managers. And for that, I have invited Margaret Meloni to join me here.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Margaret! Are you on the line?

Margaret Meloni: I am. Hi, how are you doing?

Cornelius Fichtner: Wonderful! I’m doing great this fine day and it has finally stopped raining here in California.

Margaret Meloni: Which is a mix blessing for us because we need but we didn’t need it all at once, right?

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes! But that’s always what happens. We get like five days of cats and dogs in bucketfuls.

Margaret Meloni: You know what? It actually was cats and dogs because we have a weather station and it reports rain and when it starts raining really hard, it actually displays it’s raining cats and dogs so see, you are scientifically correct!

Cornelius Fichtner: Right! And I had to actually save my cat from the roof. She climbed up there, was totally trenched.

Margaret Meloni: Oh, poor baby.

Cornelius Fichtner: Well, let’s move in to Soft Skills for Project Managers. How do you help project managers in regards to soft skills?

Margaret Meloni: Oh, I get to do some really great work with individuals and what I do is I help people in the area of conflict. And conflict meaning a problem you might be having with the boss, a problem you might be having with a coworker, an issue you might be having I’ll say with your own resolution of your goals and what you want and where you are and how you want to handle it.

And everything I’m talking about is about coaching. And our ability to navigate I’ll say the kinds of conflicts that come back to us in the office, absolutely have to do with our soft skills and how we are using them. So it all ties together and I’m in favor of what I call proactive conflict resolution, which means when we do the work on ourselves to be prepared, it’s so much easier.

Cornelius Fichtner: I agree. And you and I did the “Dealing with Difficult People” PM Lecture and of course in that I’ve learned much from you about how you deal with soft skills.

But before I started the interview with you, I put out my usual tweet on Twitter saying “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to bring Margaret on the podcast here.  Send me your questions in regards to soft skills.” Got a couple of questions here from Twitter and we’re just going to throw them in and see if you can think on the fly and answer these questions live so to speak in our interview.

Margaret Meloni: I think that’s great! I’m glad you did that. Thank you!

Cornelius Fichtner: I always try to bring in what listeners want to ask my guests here.

Margaret Meloni: I love that!  And I appreciate people who sent questions. So I’m going to thank them in advance.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! In January, you are going to have a big promotion on the various products that you offer in regards to soft skills.  And we want to go through these products so that people know what it is that they’re going to get. I believe there are eight of them and I see the last one is a free one!

Margaret Meloni: It’s true.

Cornelius Fichtner: So they are perfect!  So let’s talk about that this author in general. What is it? Why are you offering these kinds of things in January at such a great discount?

Margaret Meloni: Well, it’s my first ever sale. It’s my first ever professional development sale and I’m doing it because for many people, January is the time where they’re making resolutions and they’re looking in front of them to see “What do I want to do differently this year? Where do I want to strengthen myself?” and that coupled with…yes, that’s true but then a lot of people have just spent maybe some money in December because for so many people that’s a holiday season and an expensive time of year. And so I thought, let’s just see if helping people with some pretty deep discounts would help them to get started on the path of their choice. And that’s really where it came from.

Cornelius Fichtner: And when I look through these things, deep discount to you means 50% it looks like on everything.

Margaret Meloni: Yes, a lot of these are 50%. Most everything, I think, well, okay, one item is 33.

Cornelius Fichtner: The first one is 33.

Margaret Meloni: Yeah!

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah!

Margaret Meloni: Yeah! One is 33. I think there’s one that’s 25% and then the rest are 50. So there you go.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! Alright, okay! Let’s go through these and we’ll throw in the questions from Twitter in between so we get a bit of a mix here.

The first one, people can get a coaching session with you for 33% off. What type of coaching sessions are we talking about?

Margaret Meloni: Okay! So we are talking about one on one, individual. You know what? If you are geographically near me, I would love to come see you in person, that’s great. If you’re not and so many of my clients are actually not in person and then we will work together over the phone. And it’s 45 minutes to an hour and all I ask is that you bring to the table, ‘here’s something that I want to work on.’

For example, ‘I want to understand, I have a difficult team member and I really want some one-on-one time with you to talk about how to handle them’ or this is a very common one --- ‘I love what I do and yes, most of my people work with our project managers, but I’m not sure that I’m a project manager in the right industry or the right company or the right culture and so I want to figure out what to do next.’ See, that’s a kind of conflict as well. It’s an internal conflict of ‘I’m liking what I’m doing, but I’m not a hundred percent where I want to be, how can I do it?’

So it’s just very specific time for me to work with someone and for them to bring something to the table that they want to work on and for me to ask some questions, some insightful questions kind of analytical, and for us to device some actions for them to take to move forward.

Cornelius Fichtner: Uh-hmm. Item number two on the list, managing up the right behaviors, get you the right results. Do you know what to do? What is that?

Margaret Meloni: Well, that came down other than the coaching, the rest of these items have all come from real life issues that I’ve worked on with more than one person, which led me to go ‘Oh, maybe I can put something out there to give people some help.’

Managing up is about ‘Why is it some people seem to do so well from a social skill and political perspective and what are they doing differently?’ And some ideas of here are some things to think about.

Now, you all know me so you know the angle I come from. This isn’t about how to snow people or how to manipulate people. It’s me asking you to think about some of your behaviors and to look at some different ideas and behaviors and are you doing this? One of them, a big one, do you put others first? And when I say that I mean when you’re working and you’re looking at your to-do list, do you take care of people who are waiting on you first or do you make them wait? And do you understand what a difference that makes in people’s perspective of you? So it’s that kind of thing.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay!

Margaret Meloni: It’s a podcast like this with an ebook. So if you like to read, you got the book and if you like to listen, you got the podcast.

Cornelius Fichtner: And it’s just 9.97 for the whole month of January.

Margaret Meloni: Yes, exactly! It is.

Cornelius Fichtner: You can’t beat that.

Margaret Meloni: Yeah, these things are kind of a steal because if people are ready and want to use these products then I want them to use them.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right!

Margaret Meloni: It’s that simple.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! And since this is the first time that we’re talking about the price here, let me make absolutely clear that I do not get any commission for these sales here with the exception of the PM Lectures product that we’re going to talk about in a little while because you and I did that together so that’s actually sold from my website, also at a substantial discount of 50%, but otherwise, there is no, no commission payment between you and I at all.

Let’s move over to the questions that we got on Twitter.

Margaret Meloni: Oh good!

Cornelius Fichtner: The first one that we have coming here is from Bjoern Bartelsen. Oh he sent a question in another podcast a little while back again.

Margaret Meloni: Good!

Cornelius Fichtner: And he is the PMP who works as an airline IT Project Manager out of Hamburg in Germany.

Margaret Meloni: Wow!

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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