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Did you already make your New Year’s Resolution list? Even though some people believe making resolutions is a waste of time (studies show that only 8% of resolution makers actually follow through), there may be a real benefit to this tradition.

The secret is to apply your PM training and change the list of resolutions into a list of goals. This way, you won’t be tempted to set huge milestones for the next year and feel bad when you can’t deliver.

Even more, to get you started, we made a list for PMs who want to improve their personal and professional life in 2020. Have a look and see which goal fits your list.

Be a Leader

You may not be running the company, but you are the one responsible for running the team that was assigned to you. Moreover, you are the connection between team members and senior leadership, so it’s your job to find ways to keep both parties happy.

For this, your goals for the new year should be about the following:

  • better communication (with both parties)
  • more patience and curiosity when you’re researching a new project’s details
  • more courage when it comes to representing your team’s needs (especially if the CEOs like to establish unrealistic deadlines)
  • learn how to set clear expectations for each member of the team – this way, they’ll understand how much is expected of them
  • pay more attention to your staff’s mental health and encourage them to open up
  • invest time in the professional development of your team and start with acquainting yourself with learning trends of 2020.

You may already be doing all of these, but it’s not bad to check your performance from time to time. Are there areas where you could be better? Have you received any complaints this year that could be addressed in the new one?

Encourage and Support Remote Work

Due to the rapid development of electronic communications and the software and hardware that supports it, working remotely is slowly becoming mainstream. According to What To Become, 40% of the US workforce already engages in remote work on a regular basis, however, even though this style is more freeing for employees, 44% of companies around the world still want to see their people in the office.

Of course, there are pros and cons in working remotely, but when implemented correctly, remote work can reduce costs for the company and can make employees happier. So, if your company is reluctant to accept this trend, you should find ways to support and promote it.  

If you already have remote team members, you need to go further and take care of their well-being. Recent studies have shown that remote work can negatively impact mental health if employees don’t know how to switch off after work or feel lonely at their positions. It is your task as a project manager to engage remote workers, help them become part of your team and let them know that they are appreciated for their work.

Be More Assertive

If you want your team to trust your judgment as a leader, you must be active and quick in solving any critical issues. True, some are uncomfortable (like a conflict between your star talents), but a problem doesn’t go away if you remain passive. In fact, it can only get worse and you love your team’s trust.

As such, work on defeating your fear of conflict and implement methods that can help prevent most conflictual situations. Still, this doesn’t mean that everyone will get along, and you will have to manage the situation regardless of the fact that you want to or not.

To get better at it, learn the best ways to approach each member of your team and make sure everyone knows your door is always open.

Understand Procrastination

Everyone knows that procrastination is bad and we have to fight it. But did you ever stop to ask yourself – why do we procrastinate?

According to PsychologyToday, procrastinators are the opposite of what people think. They’re not lazy or disinterested in getting the job done, but rather overwhelmed and sometimes scared of the outcome if the task is not successful. Even more, people who procrastinate are smart, resourceful, and can function quite well under pressure.

Still, there are limits over which procrastination becomes a problem. Also, anxiety and stress tend to accumulate over time, leading to health issues. So, before you judge your team members too harshly, try to understand or even learn why people procrastinate. This will give you the possibility to understand their behavior and find better ways to fight this habit.

Focus More on Employee Engagement

Most people consider that job satisfaction and engagement are the same, but things couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, people can still be satisfied at a job where they are not encouraged to add any real value.

In order to do so, companies should allow employees to express their opinions and ideas, and help them implement the good ones. You should also steer clear from micromanaging your team and avoid being a helicopter manager. Allow your team members to set their own goals, participate in meetings where they can offer valuable insight, and/or work on individual projects they like.

Moreover, to keep people motivated and loyal, start an employee engagement program that will help them feel included and heard.

Analyze Your Performance

There’s a saying going around that states employees don’t necessarily leave a company or a position per se; they leave a manager or a boss.

So, if your team is slacking, you should start by analyzing your own performance and behavior. Try to identify the factors that influence the team in a negative manner and understand what causes them. Remember – a true and responsible leader will always take responsibility for the shortcomings of their team.

While it can be difficult to turn an inquisitorial eye on, if you want to be better at managing the people you guide, it’s best to learn how to be your own harshest critic. Once you understand where and why certain problems arise, it’s easier to apply corrective measures.  

Get Better Tools

Are you still using Excel spreadsheets to organize everything and keep track of tasks and deadlines? Then one of your goals for the next year should be finding better tools to help you manage projects and the team!

A Laptop with a Trello Sticker

There are lots of highly-efficient project management platforms easily available online that help PMs improve their work and automate routine tasks. However, in order for these tools to prove efficient and supportive of your efforts to be better at your job, you’ll also need to acquire some technical skills.

Below we have listed some of the most important ones, especially for a modern PM:

1) Agile Software

If you haven’t heard about Agile, it’s time to bring your knowledge of team management software up to date. This platform is wildly popular in the business world because it allows a continuous product management flow from inception to launch.

The software allows everyone involved in the production process to add their contribution to the project without losing focus on the main task. Moreover, it is highly flexible and supports collaborative troubleshooting, which is incredibly useful in a wide array of niches.

In addition, teams can receive feedback from the stakeholders and/or clients, and make corrections on the product as they go. As such, the client doesn’t have to wait for the team to finish a prototype and then test it – they can follow the progress, state their opinions, and see the product transform in real-time. This saves time for everyone involved (developers, stakeholders, customers).

More importantly, Agile is perfect for PMs because it reduces the time spent on discussions and negotiations.

2) Financial Modelling

Financial planning and budgeting are a big part of a PM’s job, but through financial modeling, you add innovation and vision. This is a skill developed by financial investors, business owners, accountants, and other people whose main job is organizing money.

These people become proficient (through years of experience) in building financial models to forecast the financial performance of a business or investment deal. However,  as a Project Manager, you don’t need to know how to build complex financial models. You just need the right software tool and the knowledge to use it for your needs.

Most experts consider Excel (from the Microsoft Office package) the ideal software tool for building all sorts of financial models. However, while the tool has its merit for complex modeling, it can be difficult to use for someone who is just starting. As such, since you don’t need the same level of detail as a financial analyst, you may want to consider other software tools available online.

Regardless of the tool you choose to use, it can help you forecast the financial future of a project and even find better solutions when it comes to distributing the funds.  

3) Kanban Software

If your company is involved in manufacturing, then some departments are probably already using the Kanban method of scheduling. This system was designed in Japan by the Toyota Motor Corporation and uses graphical elements to describe the production process.

But the Kanban method is no longer just for companies involved in the manufacturing business. Software companies have adapted to their needs, and other organizations have followed their example.

This is a system that lets the entire team (not just the manager) follow the progress of a project and identify bottlenecks before they become a problem. And, because it is visual, it’s easy to track performance and monitor the stage of each task.

4) Reports & Performance Tracking

Love them or hate them, reports are a PM’s bread and butter! You need them to get a birds’ eye view of your projects, but also to showcase your team’s performance and effort for bigger executives.

Wherever you turn, there’s a report to be put together, which is why the task can get boring really fast. Luckily, we live in the era of new technologies, and there are software tools that can help you keep accurate track of performance and create customized templates for your reports.

All you need to do is find the right reporting tool for your needs, and learn how to implement it for your activity. It may take some getting used to, but the benefits can be measured in saved time, improved efficiency, and better focus on the team’s needs. Overall, reporting software frees your mind for tasks that require a human touch, such as communication and solving conflicts.

Build a Knowledge Base

What happens with the notes you take on projects, the exchange of messages on a certain task, the ideas left unexplored? Even though it may not seem so, these bits of information may be useful in future projects because they offer insight into similar past situations.

A good project manager gathers all these data and stores them in a knowledge base. This can contain anything from to-do lists to personal notes on various tasks. But it can also be used to store written conversations and debates, thoughts, lightbulb moments, comments on documents, and more.

Furthermore, with the available tools (platforms like Evernote or Google Keep), project managers have full-time access to the base. This means you can continue adding ideas and notes even outside the office or the regular schedule.

As a result, nothing gets lost and valuable notes and thoughts can be shared and improved upon (you can ask for feedback from the team). So, when a similar situation arises you don’t have to start from zero – you can just check the knowledge base and get inspired by the notes and thoughts you stored.

The secret is to make sure the base is well-organized, based on specific projects or tasks. This way, you save time on search and provide the team with useful notes.  

Wrap Up

In the hope that our list proved helpful, we encourage you to add your own items to it and make it your own. You can also add personal goals like getting in shape or eating healthier. After all, you are a model to your team and you may motivate others to follow in your footsteps for a better life.

Written By
Erika Rykun is a content strategist and producer who believes the power of networking and quality writing. She’s an avid reader, writer, and runner.

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