Previously, we pointed out at the importance of construction management in achieving success in this industry. Construction managers carry out the plan at the site and see to it that everything is in order – from materials to crew members to equipment – and make sure that the operation is geared towards achieving the goal of the project. There’s just so much that construction managers should do. Today, we are to discuss the skills that they must possess to help them become successful in their roles.
The Need for Competent Construction Project Manager
While a rewarding career, a construction project manager is on the scene to juggle change orders, large teams of workers and unexpected issues–all while ensuring all work meets expected quality, budget and schedule. If and when things go wrong, you can bet the manager will be the first to hear about it, and frequently, the first to receive the blame. The job can be stressful as it continually keeps project managers on their toes.
During these hectic times and schedules, it becomes quite clear to distinguish the high-quality project managers from the average ones.
Some of the significant differences involve keeping track of timelines and budgets. Average construction project managers are just making deadlines at the skin of their teeth or are often missing them entirely because they didn’t plan ahead and factor in some of the risks they may experience with the specific project. Additionally, scope creep and overruns can sink any budget, creating unhappy owners in the process.
On the other hand, high-quality construction project managers shine as they can handle any tasks that are placed before them. They not only keep up with established budgets and timelines, they also find cost-savings without compromising quality or design while having the project finished before the proposed deadline.
The reasons why some construction project managers shine compared to others involves mastering essential education and skills needed to handle such a stressful job. And we’ll now take a look at 10 of these skills they should possess.
Flexibility and Transparency in Planning
As project changes tend to pile up quickly concerning time and money, it’s vital that managers plan adequately for the project and change. Construction project managers need to keep a pulse on all projects that are going on at once, whether it is the laying out of the foundation or mapping the electrical and plumbing lines. This work requires transparency regarding all processes so they can see what is going on, track productivity and make instant changes when a problem appears.
Having this flexibility to make changes requires letting the entire team understand the project’s scope during every step of the way. With the project manager creating a knowledgeable team, everyone will be ready to make the changes quickly when required.
There is more than just heavy equipment running on the construction site. Construction crews who are working at all phases of the project require solid leadership skills, motivational skills and accountability while effectively using their emotions to the benefit of the project’s goals.
Having emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ), focuses on the human skills of project management that go beyond simple time management and organizational skills.
Studies show that when it comes to spending time on human-related activities, about 10% of high-quality project managers spend 60-80% of their work on these factors while average project managers only spend 8-12%.
Therefore, construction project managers should take the time to develop their EQ so they can better lead and manage their team to success.
Foresight into Risk Management
Life is unpredictable, just like construction projects. What separates an average construction manager from a great one is the ability to recognize that.
The wrong materials may have been shipped to the site, or a structural support failed as it sent the project off schedule. A successful construction project manager understands that risks happen and has a thorough plan in place to handle anything that goes wrong. The project manager, as well as the team, has to sit down and identify as many risks as possible before the project begins, so their action plan is actionable when initiated.
That being said, some risks are incredibly difficult to identify and mitigate. Construction project managers ahead of the game will think about solutions to reduce this risk – including technology that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Innovations currently exist that can identify a range of risks, from safety issues to potential trade clashes.
When it comes to micromanagement, competent construction project managers throw that idea out the door. The sheer size of projects and the number of teams can make micromanaging everyone a waste of productivity and time. A successful project manager must trust that the workers have the skills to complete the project on time, and the workers need to have trust in their project manager regarding the assignment and distribution of given tasks. Although it can feel difficult not to have 100% control over every construction activity, skip getting caught up in the day-to-day minutia and instead focus more on the end goal.
One of the often-overlooked skills of a construction project manager is their overall demeanor while at the work site. Construction crews are scattered throughout the site trying to complete work and meet deadlines as stress can build in team members and lower morale. A project manager who is upbeat, enthusiastic and motivated can raise the spirits of their workers and boost confidence. In turn, this results in better work productivity as a motivated and happy team will feed off that enthusiasm. With the right leadership, staff will end up working harder to meet deadlines as well as key performance indicators.
Many construction mistakes are due to human error because of poor communication. Also, poor communication established with team members can also cause additional problems to be overlooked or solutions not relayed correctly to fix pending issues.
Construction project managers who have outstanding communication skills on and off the work site can effectively express themselves clearly to the team so everyone can better collaborate together. Employing the right technology can also aid in communication, as working with field collaboration technology like Pro Crew Schedule helps project managers keep in constant contact with their team members wherever they are located.
Can Say No
Sometimes construction owners want to make massive project changes, or adjustments in the schedule as scope creep begins to enter the project. Their expectations for the construction work isn’t always feasible based on specifications, and a smart construction project manager can be honest and open about such matters. If scope creep appears, or if the owner wants things that teams can’t possibly provide, the project manager has to say, “No” so as not to make a promise that they can’t deliver.
Close Out Projects
There’s nothing worse than having the project that seems to go on forever due to processes always falling short or building finishing being incomplete. While it’s important to step back from being the micro-manager, this doesn’t mean that construction project managers should just sit in the corner and not be aware of how well or how poorly the project is progressing. Have the ability to close out on projects by always following up on key tasks. Also, if there is a shortfall, take the blame and offer solutions to resolve the issue quickly.
The most competent construction project managers are always keenly aware of what types of strategies, technologies and methodologies appear in the construction sector that can be leveraged in their planning, project initiation and management goals. Project managers are perpetual learners as they keep up with all strategy changes and what’s on the rise in the industry.
Some interesting construction aspects that are developing include:
- Lean Construction: Lean construction methodology relies on reducing waste and minimizing ineffective processes to boost productivity, competitiveness and profitability. While it’s been around for some time, the method is steadily gaining popularity.
- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD): IPD is a collaborative approach to building. It requires creating a mini-team or organization with a variety of project stakeholders with the purpose that the members can work well enough together to move the project forward toward completion.
- New Construction Technologies: Many technologies that are appearing today, such as drones, productivity software and wearable can further shape the construction industry to make tasks easier and more productive.
Builds Trust With His team
At the end of the day, what’s in the foundation of a high-performing team? It’s trust. While it can be challenging to build trust in construction due to the high turnover and project-based nature of the industry, it’s essential quality to reduce risk.
When team members can trust a construction project manager, it creates a culture of honesty and transparency – affecting everything from communication to motivation. In addition to building the mental and emotional well-being of workers, trust can make teams more productive. Eventually, all teams will hit an issue or come to a disagreement. The teams that will move forward and become stronger are the ones with a solid basis of trust.
Furthermore, construction project managers who build trust with their clients and partners will only help to build stronger projects and companies.
The world of the construction project manager has many benefits as well as pitfalls. Honing your skills and using the right set of tools can make your business stand out from the rest so that you can help clients have successful construction projects. It’s never too late to refine your skills and evolve from an average project manager to a high performing power manager.
Check out our ebook on Crew Management and get more tips on how to properly handle a construction project.