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Episode 340: Project Manager Skills are Essential for Business Success (Free)

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This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast. Earn 37 PDUs::
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Jack Ferraro
Cornelius Fichtner and Frank Saladis

This interview with Frank Saladis was recorded at the 2015 PMI® Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "The Indispensable Project Manager". Here is the paper's abstract:

Managing projects effectively has become essential in every organization large or small. The uncertainties of the world business economy, rapidly changing technology, and the intensifying focus on sustainability has driven many organizations to develop specific methods for managing projects and to seek highly qualified people to manage those projects.

These qualifications include the ability lead as well as to manage and create an environment of change readiness, attention to quality, and an awareness that self-development is a critical factor for success at both the personal and organizational level.

Today’s project managers must adapt to change, lead diverse teams, act as ambassadors for their organizations, and deal with a multitude of challenging project stakeholders. They must also continually enhance their knowledge about business, working with people, and how to maintain a reputation of professionalism, thought leadership, and ability to add value.

This paper addresses the importance of the professional project manager to any organization, and the need for the project manager to continually enhance existing skills, adapt to a changing business environment, and become a “go to” person in the organization. Emphasis is placed on understanding the needs of the organization, clearly and visibly creating value, and managing personal brand.

Part of being able to lead diverse teams is offering project manager coaching and mentoring to those in the team, be they your project management colleagues or team members. People in diverse project roles, or positions where project management is more recently established, such as the role of project manager in SAFe agile (although that is becoming more established now in organizations scaling agile) also benefit from the support of a strong leader.

Leadership and the personal qualities of a project manager are things we talk about regularly on our social media for project managers channels. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Enjoy the episode.

Episode Transcript

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

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Welcome back to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. This is the Project Management Podcast and we're coming to you live from the PMI 2015 Global Congress. With me is Frank Saladis. Hello, Frank.

Frank Saladis:   Hi, Cornelius, how are you?

Cornelius Fichtner:   I am doing very well. And before we do anything else, congratulations! You received an award.  Yesterday evening, you are a - let's see, it's the PMI Distinguished Contribution Awards that you have received, right?

Frank Saladis:   That's right. That's what I received.

Cornelius Fichtner:   That is very nice. I am not worthy. I am not worthy. So you've been doing project management and giving to PMI for the past 2,500 years it seems.

Frank Saladis:   Yes, that's where it is. Yes, it is. Yes, exactly 2,500 years.

Cornelius Fichtner:   So congratulations on receiving that award. It's really nice to see. My first question to you is, looking into the future, what do you think 2016 is going to bring to project management?

Frank Saladis:   Well, you know, every year, some things change a little bit, you know, and I actually follow trends and things like that, so I can get up on what's going to happen. And one of the things you'll probably hear commonly is Agile will continue to grow. I think people are beginning to see not just in the software and IT field that there are techniques in Agile that can be adopted for or call more traditional projects. I think we'll see that. I see me personally because of what's going on in the world in the past several years and things is a lot more interesting, disaster recovery and business continuity. I think that and they are related to risk management.  And I think that the general business population, the environment, probably hasn't really been paying enough attention to risk. You can see that so many companies are now being hacked. You know, we have security issues and so on. And maybe it's time to step up and see, you know, pay more attention to the risk factor. And although the disasters that you see, the recent flooding in Columbia, South Carolina, the fires in California, and things like that, the we have to really anticipate these kinds of things more, that we have to look for ways to prevent them and to mitigate the possibilities. And then we have to react when, if they do occur, that we have the contingencies in places. So those are some of the things that I see that are going to drive project management in the future. The other things that I could think of would be that we're still looking for better ways to protect the environment. So there are new energy sources, you know, the wind and the sun. I see lots and lots of opportunity there for projects that are going to become or called smart cities which have already started in various places around the world. And you're going to see more and more of that reserved renewable energy and a little bit more focus on the ecology and the environment.

Cornelius Fichtner:   All right. Your paper and presentation is titled, The Indispensable Project Manager. Why this topic? 

Frank Saladis:   Well, it starts with the fact that most project managers would pretty much agree that what we do, what project managers do, is not really appreciated. And for many years, a lot of my colleagues, we even joke about it a little bit, that the project management is the unappreciated profession. You know, a lot of people know that there's project managers out there, they don't really fully understand what project managers do. But if you think about, you know, I am associated somewhat with the PMI Educational Foundation, and one of their goals, one of their missions, is to show the life skills of project management. So I kind of thought about that and said, you know, project managers really have quite a bit of knowledge but a number of different things and they are groomed and become leaders of teams. So my thought here is you know, how do we get people to be more conscious of what project managers do? And I came across an article about being indispensable and I said, you know, let me look into that. And what it means to me is that you have to become like a go-to person for the organization. And how do you get to be a go-to person? That means that you have to show that you're producing value, that you can get things done, that you are a resource that people would want to seek you out if they needed some help. So that's kind of the beginning of this whole being indispensable. And the other part of that is that I joke around about, you know, project managers being unappreciated. And you know, if you really think about it, if you would ask a child, any child anywhere, you know, what you want to be when you grow up, how many would even going to say, oh, I want to be a project manager.

Cornelius Fichtner:   Not as many.

Frank Saladis:   Yeah, that's right. So we have to fix that image of the project manager being this task-oriented individual and turn that image into, wow, they're doing wonderful things. They're creating fantastic products and services. They're changing the world. And how do you do that? You start to show people just how much you can do. And that's where the root comes from.

Cornelius Fichtner:   All right. I was surprised to see however that section one in your paper is titled Managing Your Personal Brand. How does personal brand help me to become indispensable? 

Frank Saladis:   Well, think about whatever it is that you do and again, I joke around this and sometimes in the classroom, but I will pick any particular person that's sitting in the room and I will ask him or her to introduce herself and then I will simply say, you know, John is excellent, he's got an excellent reputation, he does excellent work. And I get everybody in the room to give him a round of applause because he does excellent work. And then I walk to someone else and I point to them and have them stand up and I say, Ed does good work. And you know what you get? You get the exact same reaction. Everybody starts laughing, oh this guy does good work. Poor him, you know and we're like the excellent guy. And I said, you know, good is okay until excellent came along.

Cornelius Fichtner:   Right.

Frank Saladis:   So, a little bit of premise there. So the issue of brand and I have a very simple formula, a lot of people have, you know, similar ways of explaining it. But what you have to do personally, you personally, is you have to show to other people, to organizations that you are producing value, okay. And value, it can be defined in many ways besides money, okay. Whatever it is that you do that's going to produce value, in your terms and in their terms, okay, that is significant. Now if you are continuously producing value, then people will be coming back to you time and again because they need whatever it is that you're offering. Now that is an indication of brand, okay. When people keep coming back to you and other people begin to notice you, and before you know it, a lot of people are talking about you, on what you do and the things that you accomplished and so on, and you're the person to go to for these kinds of things. Now you have brand. Value produces brand, right. Brand is an indication of success. If you go and keep doing these kinds of things, people keep coming back to you, you're a successful person. How do you sustain success?  Well, you have to produce value. So it's very simple, you know, equation basically. Value. Brand. Success. Continued success means produce more value.

Cornelius Fichtner:   Right. And in this particular case, brand has nothing to do with having a logo or like Coca-Cola with the red color. It's really how you are being perceived as a professional within your organization He or she delivers value. This is the go-to person that we have to go and see. Does that where the connection is? 

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

PDUs: Power Skills, PMI Global Congress, PMI Global Congress NA 2015, Project Manager Skills

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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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