When people hear the word “construction,” they immediately think about the workers onsite who do all the physical labor: laying down the foundation, the concrete work, operating machines, and climbing scaffolding.
Seldom does the project management for construction cross their minds. But without project managers making construction schedules, writing up punch lists, and supervising the crew, the project will progress in chaos and end in failure.
But a project manager is more than someone holding a clipboard, tracking the project’s progress, and barking orders. In many instances, they become leaders.
Why Project Managers Should Be Leading Instead Of Just Managing Construction Projects
Generally speaking, project managers and leaders are not the same. By definition, “leading” means to influence or direct the team in a direction or on a course, while “managing” means to direct or handle with some level of skill and understanding.
Project managers tend to be focused on the present, making sure everything is going according to plan and deals with problems as soon as they arise. Because of their work nature, they also tend to be distant from their crew members, keeping stability in the hierarchy and remaining objective.
But what if managers became more like leaders? Instead of keeping the power they have because of their position, they could build a link with their team personally and emotionally to create openness and evoke change. Also, rather than working on the present, project managers should look at the future.
The main advantages of making this switch are increasing productivity and guaranteeing success for the construction project.
In an industry like construction, trust and teamwork are essential. When managers connect with their workers, they are creating trust. With this trust, the employees would be more open in expressing their thoughts, opinions, suggestions, and questions, not only personally but professionally. Because they are working in the field, their insights from their experiences will help the project move forward.
For example, the workers, being the ones mixing and finishing cement, see that the ones purchased were of subpar quality. If they had an unapproachable project manager, they would most likely keep the information to themselves. On the other hand, with a project manager, they feel comfortable with, they would open up about the low-quality cement. Knowing this, the manager can act immediately and purchase better quality cement, ultimately saving the project and the company’s reputation.
More than that, teamwork is vital in construction projects. As mentioned previously, managers direct or manage with a degree of skill and understanding. This means that they are not only present onsite to delegate tasks and create schedules. For a successful project, they must have the technical knowledge and skill to properly manage a construction project, where technical skills are vital. Furthermore, the crew is more like to trust and follow a manager who knows what they’re talking about and knows how to perform it.
Look at it this way: when problems arise that the construction workers cannot work themselves out, they will turn to the manager. But if the project manager lacks the skill or knowledge to fix the issue, it will remain an issue or become a bigger problem.
With that said, although not all project managers are leaders, their enhancing of leadership skills will prove to have positive effects that transcend their present jobs. It will benefit the project they are currently working on and guide them in bettering themselves for future employment and, ultimately, their careers.
Qualities That Make A Project Manager A Good Leader
1. Excellent communication skills
Communication is crucial in construction– between the project manager, the client, contractors, and the crew. It’s the foundation of any good relationship, and in this case, a successful project.
Essentially, without proper communication, things would progress to chaos. As the head of the team, project managers should have excellent communication skills.
For one, they must convey their message clearly and concisely, whether they are speaking to the client or their crew. If they fail to do so, this miscommunication could lead to the downfall of the project.
But communication is a two-way street. Listening is part of communication and is just as important as talking. Like what was said before, the opinions of the workers are essential during construction projects. So, as a tip to the project managers, listen to them. Do not let your power or position belittle their words. You will find that the information you gather from them is insightful.
Additionally, reading and understanding non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, are beneficial.
2. Goal-oriented (focused)
It was said before that project managers tend to stay focused on the present, but they can be more like leaders by being goal-oriented and looking at the future.
While being in the now has some advantages, like being focused and detailed with tasks and solutions, being prepared for the future holds more upsides. In terms of risk mitigation, project managers would be able to see potential risk factors and plan for prevention and solution, minimizing the risks to come to fruition.
Goal-oriented project managers will exert all possible efforts and resources to complete the job.
3. Detail-oriented and organized
Project managers are tasked to oversee everything about the project, from the workers to client relations, to the budget, to the structure’s overall progress. With all this going on, they have to be organized and stay on top of things, which can be tricky in a field like construction where it’s easy to get caught up in disorder. Be that as it may, they must work on their organization skills or employ construction management software.
A small oversight, a minute miscalculation, or making the wrong call can lead to more significant onsite problems, possibly even overall failure.
It’s not enough for project managers/leaders to have a vision of how the construction project would be. They’ll need to create comprehensive and thorough plans and meticulously follow them.
Efficiency is another crucial element in the industry. Project managers have to get the job done in the best way possible. This means achieving it with the least amount of time, money, and effort possible in the industry.
This is where being detail-and goal-oriented come in to play. With a vision in mind and a proper plan ready, project managers should efficiently use the resources and not go over budget.
5. Assertive but respectful
As they are in a management position, project managers/leaders need to be assertive to get things done. Connecting with the employees will help manage them; it’s still important to keep boundaries because they are still boss. If the crew gets too comfortable, they might not respect the managers anymore.
However, managers should not abuse their power. They must still treat their employees with the appropriate level of respect and professionalism required.
Construction is an ethical industry, although it may not seem like it. When clients tempt project managers to skip on permits or colleagues to bump up prices, there are times when they are will be drawn. But they must stay true to their ethics and morals. Moreover, taking the unethical route could tarnish their reputation and destroy their careers.
It might seem unimportant for a project manager, but the way one carries themselves impacts how people look at them, which is a factor in leadership.
Being confident shows that a project manager is someone that can be trusted. From a worker’s point of view, a confident manager knows to manage and lead them. In the eyes of a client, a secure project manager knows their stuff and can deliver.
But it’s important to know when to draw the line. When one is overconfident and becomes arrogant, they might lose potential clients because they underdelivered and disappointed their customers.
As said before, leading is influencing or directing their team in a direction. Being a leader, project managers must motivate their staff to see their vision to achieve their goal. If they do this correctly, the crew members will want to continue to work, want to keep doing what they do, or even want to be better.
With that, productivity is maximized and the project will most likely succeed.
Project managers will be faced with many different obstacles in the duration of a job. So, they must be able to troubleshoot and creatively explore options and solutions. As times progress, so should the ideas of a project manager.
And their innovativeness is not limited to the structure per se. They can show their creativity through the way they manage and lead the crew.
Project managers are assigned plenty of tasks and are involved in a myriad of phases– from the designing and planning to the workers’ salary, from project schedules to budget allocations.
Although it’s not physically possible for project managers to be everywhere at once, they must be flexible. This could mean multitasking, compartmentalizing, or being flexible with their time.