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What to Look for in the Ideal Construction Project Manager


By Lauren Brookes

A construction project manager sets the foundation that a successful project is built on, as they are responsible for seeing projects through from initial conception all of the way to completion.

A jobsite without a skilled project manager is akin to a film set without a gifted director. Even if there’s a solid script, a talented team of actors, and a reliable crew, the director is what ultimately makes or breaks the end result. Without an effective project manager, a project can easily fall apart, even if all of the other important necessities, such as labor and materials, are present.

Because so much depends on the project manager, it’s vital to find and hire the right person for your construction ventures. Whether you’re working with an executive search firm or going through the hiring process on your own, it helps to know what defines an ideal candidate. Here are a few key qualities to keep in mind:

Expert Ability to Organize and Communicate

Between budgeting expenses, communicating with clients and suppliers, overseeing onsite safety, assigning tasks, managing timelines and ensuring project quality, it’s easy to see why project management plays such a vital role in a construction project’s success.

Because there are so many working components that need to be addressed, strong communication and organizational skills are absolutely crucial in keeping everything on track. A project manager needs to be able to have a 360-degree view of the entire project at all times.

Clearly and concisely communicating with all necessary parties and thoroughly organizing and prioritizing tasks helps everyone operate on the same page, while poor communication can obstruct onsite safety and prevent deadlines from being met.  

Natural Delegating Skills

Construction projects involve multiple moving parts, and a competent project manager will instinctively know how to analyze a large project, break it down into smaller tasks, and assign those tasks accordingly.

They’ll also be able to analyze the team members and strategize where each person’s strengths will be best utilized. Deciding who is going to do what task is almost as important as deciding what task needs to be done. Anyone can tell someone what to do, but a good leader will thoughtfully consider the reason a certain person is chosen for a specific task.

Problem Solving Skills and a Sense of Resourcefulness

Something can always go wrong during a construction project, even for the most stringently planned projects. Setbacks due to weather hassles or supplier mix-ups aren’t rare, which is why project managers need to remain calm and think quickly and creatively on their feet.

Problems will inevitably occur, and being able to promptly adapt to the situation and utilize alternative resources will help prevent these issues from severely hindering the project scope and timeline.

Ability to Unify and Motivate the Team

A strong construction team is critical to a project’s success, which is why an effective project manager needs to be able to unify and motivate everyone working on the project. Construction work can be demanding, and workers often put in extremely long days in order to meet deadlines. Too much stress can distract and discourage workers, resulting in lowered productivity and depleted morale.

To mitigate this, a project manager should work hard to motivate and inspire the team by emphasizing their shared purpose and goal. Creating incentives, rewarding hard work, and offering praise will help keep everyone motivated and help encourage the team to work together as a cohesive unit.

Look for These Skills When Vetting Potential Construction Project Managers

Hopefully the above advice helps narrow down what to look for in a project manager. Always ask the candidates to explain specific instances in which they’ve demonstrated these important qualities, and be sure to contact their references as well. When you do find a project manager who possesses all of these traits, you’ll rest easy knowing they can expertly handle all obstacles that come their way.

Lauren Brookes is a writer from the vibrant state of Colorado. Her work focuses on career and recruiting advice, primarily focusing on the construction industry. 
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