Margaret Meloni has an incredible 23 years plus of experience in project management. She is an accomplished professional, coach, and author in project management. She has a passion for project management coaching and training, and helps her students and professionals by providing them with tough projects to help them grow their complex skillset.
She has authored two incredible books on project management: “101 Great Ways to Enhance your Career” and “52 Ways to Break into Project Management”. Margaret also actively manages her blog to help the project management community by empowering them with the latest knowledge and practices in the PM community.
Margaret’s aim remains to create a better, successful workplace where peace and success go hand in hand. She is the community leader at pmStudent.com. A site dedicated to helping you become the best project manager you can be—that includes your technical and leadership skills.
Margaret firmly believes that people can reach their true potential by being their authentic selves at work. Her ultimate goal is to develop individuals who are successful and also are their authentic selves at work. Her trainings are virtual and onsite to develop skills for creating the best project managers they can be.
AppVerticals: First of all, Margaret, we want to know what inspires you to be a project management coach and author.
Margaret: You can say that I was pushed into this role. Several years ago, I had a difficult experience at work. I worked in a very toxic environment, and when I left – and truly, I was pushed out – I realized that I did not want others to have such difficult situations. Or if they did have difficult situations, I wanted them to have help. And that led me to coach, and coaching led me to teach project management, as I realized that teaching can be like a group coaching session so often.
AppVerticals: You are a very well-accomplished project manager; in your view, what is the recipe for success?
Margaret: Thank you very much for your kind words. When I think of a recipe for success, I realize we first need to decide what success means. When you cook and use a recipe, you have a specific end goal. You know what that cake is supposed to look like and taste like. Our important first step is to decide what we mean when we say success. Then, each of us can design a life and career plan to reach our goals.
AppVerticals: Being a coach in project management, how you see new and fresh perspectives of your students helps make you grow.
Margaret: My students teach me something new every time we meet. It might be about their specific industry or corporate culture, but they help keep me fresh. Once they share a challenge with me, I feel motivated to learn more about that challenge, discuss it, and to find creative solutions.
AppVerticals: Team harmony is very important for making all grow, but some people seem to follow the path of utilizing it to remain in their comfort zone. How can we counter it and bring continuous improvement to work and processes?
Margaret: As project managers, we need to help develop our team.Not just the team itself but the individuals within that team too. We must observe the people contributing to our projects and be aware of someone hiding behind the group. Once we identify someone hiding, we can give them opportunities to be in the spotlight to ensure they receive credit for their knowledge and skills. As project managers, when we give a presentation or status, we need to point out individuals who receive recognition. In this way, the group is not some nameless/faceless entity.
AppVerticals: Many hardworking employees stop growing after getting into leadership roles. What do you suggest for helping them grow constantly?
Margaret: This question reminds me of someone I once worked for. He saw that I needed to improve my delegating, time management, and asking for help. He could have told me this. But he did not. Instead, he kept giving me more work to teach me to learn from my own experiences. Finally, one day, I was at my breaking point. And I went to him and shared that I needed help. I was so embarrassed. To my relief, he looked at me, smiled, and said, “It’s about time!” Then we sat down and planned out together how to move forward.
His approach was risky and would not have worked with everyone. But by challenging me, he helped me to grow.
AppVerticals: Many people climb the organizational ladder early and then do not understand how to handle the pressure because of a lack of technical knowledge of those roles. What in your opinion, is the fastest route to develop those required skills?
Margaret: It is unfair to place someone in a position of responsibility without giving them the tools to succeed. Instead of throwing someone into a role and saying, “Well, now it sinks or swim,” we need to help people swim. Mentorship is a great way to assist. A specific growth plan with education customized to the role’s requirements is another way to build successful leaders.
AppVerticals: You provide virtual training as well. In my experience, many students are reluctant or not motivated enough to attend virtual sessions with the same energy. What do you see as a possible solution to address this cause?
Margaret: Treat the virtual course like an in-person course. Make an appointment on your calendar on the same day and time every week, and pretend that you are in a class that day. Reach out to others in the course and if it makes sense, have online study sessions. Or, select one or two of your classmates and follow them in the course. When you interact in discussion forums, you interact with the same people, which helps you build relationships.
AppVerticals: Many young project managers struggle with building technical skills early in their careers. Is there any short route to acquiring these essential skills and expertise early in your career?
Margaret: Do not stumble around. Get help! Visit your local PMI (Project Management Institute) chapter. Find suitable training and find a coach or mentor. This way, you can ask questions and learn without feeling uncomfortable being new.
AppVerticals: Tell us more about the books you have authored and your blog on project management.
Margaret: I have had the good fortune to contribute to “101 Great Ways to Enhance your Career” and “52 Ways to Break into Project Management”. And in both cases, since I was one of several authors, I was able to focus on a topic that seemed meaningful. For example, in “101 Great Ways to Enhance your Career,” to write a chapter on conflict resolution. Our ability to handle conflict in the workplace sets the tone for our professional relationships.
I do write other books, but they are outside the topic of project management. These are my way of giving back – because they are focused on dealing with grief and loss.
AppVerticals: I read that in your perspective, being an authentic self at work helps you achieve your maximum potential, but we see that red tape in organizations does not allow people to be their authentic selves at work; what solution do you suggest for this dilemma?
Margaret: You are right. At work, we face politics and corporate culture. We work within the confines of those systems. If you find that you consistently feel that to keep your job or to move ahead, you are not being true to yourself and your values, it is time to move on.
AppVerticals: Some people have an exhausting work life that it even disturbs their personal life. So taking out time for personal development is impossible. What do you suggest to such professionals to keep growing their skill set?
Margaret: There are times in our careers when everything is about work. It is a tradeoff. The challenge is that if we never make time for anything else, others learning and investing in their skill sets will likely pass us by. For the most part, nobody will take care of your development but you. Be aware of what your focus on work is costing you. Use this time for your hands-on experience—plan for future scenarios where you have the time and ability to work on your development.
AppVerticals: What hobbies have you adopted to keep yourself energized and maintain a work/life balance?
Margaret: Most days, I walk a few miles. I also enjoy cooking, reading, and spending time with friends. When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, one of the best things I can do is get outside or sit down and meditate.
AppVerticals: AppVerticals is a specialized application development company; what do you suggest for improving project management in our organization?
Margaret: Any suggestion I would make right now would be very random and unspecific, like, keep investing in project management and work to gain organizational buy-in. I want to ask, “Where are your greatest challenges?” That is where to look.
Credits : AppVerticals