A construction project manager is a person who is responsible for the success of a construction project. He or she manages a variety of tasks at different stages throughout the construction project. This position comes with a high level of professionalism and responsibility that comes with a number of challenges and a high level of stress. On a daily basis, Project Managers communicate with various individuals involved in the construction process. They have to deal with any emergencies on the site, manage and coordinate large groups of workers, control the quality of work, budget and schedule. When something goes wrong, construction project managers are the first to take responsibility for what happened.
The modern project management approach focuses not only on delivering products and services, but on achieving a common goal. While schedule and cost are still important, they become secondary to the overall goals of the organization. In this context, it becomes clear why innovative skills are so valued by employers. An innovative construction project manager is exactly the person every construction company needs to achieve its goal. Such a specialist is expected to:
- verify the feasibility of the goal
- identify and analyze the causes of problems
- find innovative solutions
- define the scope of work of the project
- ensure that the strategic goals are achieved
As you can see, the role of an innovative construction project manager requires a number of personal qualities and skills that will make you stand out from the crowd. Below, we list 12 components for a successful career in construction project management.
1. Excellent at scheduling time and resources
A well-planned construction schedule ensures efficiency and productivity. Creating a schedule allows the project manager to monitor quality standards and manage resource allocation throughout the construction process. Time is money, and an accurate schedule allows each party to allocate time to all tasks to avoid delays and cost overruns.
The construction project schedule serves as a roadmap to guide the team. The construction project manager must always consider the client’s requirements and ensure that the plan is consistent with the project. Construction project managers oversee all parallel processes, whether it’s laying the foundation or installing power and water lines. The project manager’s work requires transparency so that it is always apparent what is going on. That’s why it’s extremely important to use modern digital site management tools – they not only streamline the work, but also provide the project manager with a platform for interaction with all project stakeholders.
2. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, control and justify one’s own emotions as well as sensitivity to the emotions of others. This is because emotions can be used as a source of energy, motivation and influence. More and more companies are paying attention to these soft skills when hiring employees. In fact, given today’s emphasis on teamwork and corporate culture, emotional intelligence is an essential attribute of a high-performing construction project manager. With several of teams comprising hundreds of individuals involved in large projects, employees need a confident leader with good motivational skills and a high level of accountability to achieve common goals.
Modern project managers spend about 75-90% of their working time on formal or informal communication. It’s no wonder, then, that effective communication is critical to project success. Emotional intelligence helps project managers build closer relationships with their stakeholders, which leads to project success. To focus the team’s energy on achieving each project milestone, construction project managers need to be on the same page as their staff. The ultimate goal of any project manager is not to achieve the common goal alone, but to work with a team toward a common goal.
3. Risk management
Construction projects are complex and unpredictable. Delivery of the wrong material to the site, delays in the execution of work – such situations lead to a shift in the project schedule. A successful construction project manager knows that there are always risks, and therefore must both plan for these scenarios and be able to quickly adapt to anything unforeseen.
Construction software, drones, and AR software can become useful tools for a professional construction project manager to help them identify risks ranging from safety concerns to potential trade conflicts. A modern project manager is aware of such innovations and uses them in their daily work to calculate risks for a major project.
4. Entrepreneurial skills
Construction management can be compared to running a business. Each project is characterized by its own problems and the different teams needed for the construction process. The project manager plans and initiates processes, monitors work, and responds quickly to project concerns.
Entrepreneurial thinking is essential for success, especially when a project manager is responsible for multiple projects of varying sizes and manages multiple teams. Good business skills enable project managers to motivate staff, allocate tasks and resources wisely, and keep the project’s best interests in mind. It is a project manager’s job to create a cohesive and dynamic work environment – but also to deliver projects on-time and on-budget.
5. Ability to delegate
Top managers of construction projects should not spend too much time micromanaging their team. A project manager must ensure that all individuals and teams have the right skills to complete a project on time, while workers need effective and clear task assignment and a work environment full of trust and mutual respect. Therefore, it is important to delegate control to site managers or the managers of specialized sub-teams. Local problems should be solved by specialists on site. This does not mean that a project manager loses control over the project – but the PM can be more effective when there is a level of management between them and workers, to make sure they only have to solve the problems that really require their input.
6. Passion for the work
One of the essential characteristics of a successful construction project manager is their commitment and enthusiasm. A project manager’s behavior on the job can have a direct impact on the project. Construction crews are scattered across a site, all trying to complete work and meet tough deadlines. Stress can demotivates team members and lowers morale. An upbeat, enthusiastic, and motivated construction project leader can boost the positive mood and confidence of employees. With the right and balanced leadership, employees will work harder to meet deadlines and meet key performance indicators (KPIs).
7. Effective communication style
Many mistakes in construction are due to human error. Poor communication with team members can result in problems being overlooked or solutions to fix problems being presented incorrectly. Construction project managers with excellent communication skills are able to get their thoughts across clearly and effectively. Using the right technology, such as cloud-based solutions like PlanRadar’s construction project manager software, Fieldwire, or PlanGrid, can also help with communication. Using a mobile app for on-site collaboration helps project managers stay in constant contact with all members of their team, no matter where they are. It can also help to centralise communication, so no information is lost.
8. The ability to say “no” on the job
Sometimes the general contractor or owner wants to make major changes to the project or adjust the schedule, extending the project duration. Experienced project managers should not be afraid to state their position and be honest about the fact that certain changes are not possible due to the specifications of the construction project. If the client’s improvements cannot be implemented without jeopardizing the schedule and cost, a professional project manager must find the strength to reasonably decline and not make impossible promises.
Additionally, sometimes work teams might want to make changes to the plan to make their lives easier. It’s up to the project manager to decide whether these changes will impact the eventual outcome of the project and whether the client would need to approve them. Again, in these situations, the project manager needs to be able to judge when a straight “no” is the most effective answer.
9. Perseverance and determination
Many projects last over 6 months, some even last years. If a project manager is going to succeed beyond just the first phase, they need to be comfortable thinking long-term. Self-determination and strategic focus are essential to thinking beyond the mundane tasks that, if not managed properly, can overwhelm you. It is easy for one mistake to become several mistakes, delaying the completion date.
It is important to be able to complete projects and, in the event of failure, be prepared to take responsibility and find an effective solution to fix problems quickly. The project manager who gives up easily, especially when things get tough, will probably struggle in the industry.
10. Continuous desire to learn
It is critical for construction project managers to view themselves as learners. They are constantly faced with changes that impact job responsibilities, procedures, resources, and strategies. One tiny improvement could have a huge impact. As a result, project managers must keep up with current trends and technologies in construction. This also applies to using the latest construction software for effective management, as Excel or other outdated management software can only partially do the job. The following are some concepts in modern construction that innovative project managers should be aware of and keep learning about:
- Lean Construction – reduces waste by minimizing inefficient processes. This increases productivity, competitiveness and profitability.
- Integrated Project Delivery – an innovative approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into one process. Such collaboration helps unleash the talents of all stakeholders and gain insights to optimize project outcomes, increase value to the owner, reduce waste and maximize efficiency in all phases of design, fabrication and construction.
- New construction technologies – drones, BIM, AI, AR and wearables, cloud-based project management solutions, the use of construction management software to make the construction process easier and more productive.
As mentioned earlier, there are many innovations available to project teams today to improve efficiency, communication and quality of work. The difference between a good construction project manager and an excellent construction project manager is that the latter puts his team first, not his personal ambitions. Instead of thinking about “how technology can help me do my job better,” a project manager should think about “how technology can help my teams.” Therefore, it is important to communicate with the team, learn about their problems and identify tools that could help them.
Technology means nothing without people, but it can be a great asset if used properly. A good project manager should be hands-on in the selection and roll-out of any tech on-site.
12. Ability to build trust and lead by example
What is the key to building a high performing team? We think it’s trust and reputation. Although building trust is challenging in the construction industry as not many construction teams stay together after completing a project, it is still worth investing time in. When team members can rely on the project manager, it creates a culture of honesty and transparency that impacts everything from communication to motivation. In addition to the psychological and emotional well-being of employees, trust can significantly increase team productivity.
When issues arise on a construction project, it’s critical to ensure proper and easy communication between employees. All complaints and disagreements will be more successfully resolved if the principles of a trusting relationship are adhered to. An impeccable reputation and honest partnerships are far more likely to lead projects to a successful conclusion.