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Project Management Insights: Setting Goals that Get Results

Christine Brack on January 25, 2019 - in Articles, Column

We are nearing the end of the year, and firms soon will be asking personnel to establish their goals for the new year. Although sometimes tiresome, it is an important exercise—especially for firms that are learning organizations, tie incentive compensation to improvement and focus on professional development.

I’m working with a client that’s taking a closer look at how they develop project managers (PMs). Currently, their PMs loosely perform in the role while principals control most of the moving parts. The aim is to cultivate stronger managers who take complete ownership of project responsibilities. It’s a large—yet necessary—strategic undertaking.

Three Goals to Accomplish by Year End

In July, each project manager met with his or her principal and HR manager to discuss skills, abilities and opportunities for growth, arriving at three goals to accomplish by the end of the year. Below are examples of their original goals; followed by my elaboration after they asked me to review. Which do you think will be more effective in achieving results?

Improve Time Management

Original goals:

• I need to retrain myself to become more efficient.

• Look for ways to better manage my time.

New goals:

• To understand how my time is spent and identify opportunities for self-improvement in this area, I will identify the “time robbers” in my work habits within the next two weeks.

• To improve my own effectiveness as a PM and leverage internal training, I will identify two time-management best practices learned in the webinar and develop a personal implementation plan (including what, when and how) by the end of the third quarter.

• To earn back time to allocate to higher-priority, higher-value activities, I will find/free-up three hours a week by next quarter by eliminating one or two of the time robbers I identified.

Improve Communication

Original goals:

• Better convey the project expectations and limitations to the team and influence them to keep the project in budget.

• Improve my skills in delegation, transfer of information, and understanding how to motivate my staff to be more mindful of budgets and deadlines.

New goals:

• To improve team understanding of project expectations and build team cohesiveness, I will establish SMART goals with and for the team by the end of the third quarter.

• To raise the visibility of each team members’ work and ensure the work is integrated, I will institute a daily huddle with my project team by the end of the third quarter.

• To improve my personal communication effectiveness, I will identify two communication best practices learned in the webinar and create a plan on implementing those as a permanent habit by the end of the third quarter. This plan includes a date, measurements and resources needed.

Increase Confidence

Original goals:

• Judgment and confidence development via internal training and self-education, etc.

• Improve my confidence as a leader. Get my team to perform at a higher level and become more inspiring to them.

New goals:

• To build my presentation skills and build familiarity with others in the firm, I will develop and deliver a “lunch and learn” by the end of the third quarter that has relevance to the firm and learning objectives for the participants.

• To build confidence in my judgment and decision-making skills, I will earmark/track my doubtful moments over the next quarter. I will document at least three occasions in which I would go to the Principal-in-Charge (PIC) for assistance because of force of habit. Before I go for assistance, I will identify what I am doubtful/unsure about and why I feel that way. Then I will imagine my colleague came to me with this same scenario. How would I advise them? Do I still go to the PIC?

• To build confidence based on my self-awareness, I will select one book on the topic of confidence building and read it by the end of the quarter. Within two weeks of finishing the book, I will present a book report (short monologue/no presentation needed) on what it meant to me and share my personal takeaway.

• To continuously improve and incorporate my personal takeaway from the book, I will create a plan on how I will implement and live by this change (plan includes what, when and how).

Most goals are well-intended but rarely successful. In the coming months, develop goals that will not only get completed but will achieve results beneficial to the employee and firm.

Christine Brack

About Christine Brack

Christine Brack, PMP, is a Principal at ChrismarGroup, a training and consultancy firm; email: cbrack@chrismargroup.com.

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