By Ron Pestone
In construction there are different segments of the market that require different skills of Project Managers. Construction Managers and Owners Representatives want a specific type of Project Manager while a General Contractor requires a different type of Project Manager. This article concerns itself with the type of Project Manager Subcontractors require and need. While there are different requirements and skills for each segment of the industry there are basis and specific character traits that any successful Project Manager must possess if they are to be of any value in the industry.
The most basic of all character traits any decent Project Manager must poss is loyalty. Without loyalty there is nothing. The loyalty must be to the owner of the company he works for and it must be deep rooted. Loyalty cannot be taught. It is in the bones. Never consider anybody for this important position whose loyalty is in the slightest doubt.
Honesty ranks second. A Project Manager who is not honest and by honest I mean 100% honest is worthless. This not only applies to the obvious like stealing or doubles dealing; no it goes much deeper like starting late and quitting early which in truth is another form of stealing. Project Managers are usually not office sitters. This is especially true if they are handling more than one project at the same time. So in effect a lot of their time is unsupervised. They are out there doing what must be done. The less than honest ones think their day is over around 2:00 in the afternoon and head home or decide to go shopping in the middle of the day or decide that a particular day is a good beach day and head for the beach instead of the job. While they do not consider this stealing I do, I cannot see the difference in stealing material or time. So when you are thinking about honesty think about what real honesty is. Real honesty runs deep and it is a trait to be treasured.
Self-Motivation ranks up there in importance. A Project Manager who is not self-motivated is a pig stuck in the mud. Fat, sloppy and unable to move he is of little use except to be tomorrow’s bacon. So much of what a Project Manager does today does not show its head until weeks or months later. If he does not take care of something early on like submitting and ordering a specified piece of equipment it is way too late to order that equipment the day before it is needed on the job. Project Management is not factory or even office work where people are being watched every minute. A good Project Manager needs to be on top of his game every day and that means submitting when he should, ordering when he should, getting answers to questions when needed, billing properly and making sure the client is happy without giving the store away.
In construction it is essential that a Project Manager knows how to read drawings, specifications and all contract documents. It is not a school out there. He needs to have a thorough understanding of a project before he steps a foot on it. In addition to being above average with drawings and specifications he needs to be familiar with construction contracts. Without being proficient in all three of these areas is like taking a guy off the street and throwing him in a lion cage at the circus with three hungry lions with the expectation that he will be able to get the lions to run through their nightly performance. The only thing you accomplished was giving the lions an early dinner.
People skills are important. A good Project Manager must have good people skills because construction is a people business, people who on the whole are strong and determined to have their way. After over 50 years in the business I am still waiting for my first lamb. A Project Manager must know when to hold and when to fold. When to compromise and when not to and he better be good at forming ever changing coalitions.
End of Part 1
Don’t Forget We Build America