5 Steps To Becoming A Successful Project Manager
Project Managers are estimated to hold, on average, a staggering 120 responsibilities. The ability to juggle all of these competing demands on your time, as well as deal with unforeseen delays, disruptive weather and budget blowouts, are vital qualities of the effective project manager. Luckily, you can arm yourself with all the tools needed to become a brilliant project manager in the construction industry.
Get Educated (and stay that way). In the modern construction industry, most project managers obtain a degree in a field that will give them theoretical knowledge of the industry. Your knowledge of practices, permits, regulations, software and technology will be extremely solid after taking this path. However, once you have your first role, it’s important to keep educating yourself throughout your entire career. The practices and technology of the construction industry are changing lightning-fast, so you need to keep up if you’re going to excel and develop you career.
Amass Practical Experience. It’s not enough to get a degree. Onsite experience will not only expand your knowledge and practical skills exponentially, but it will also increase your image of authority with your production team. Keep your practical experience as broad as possible- perhaps work on job sites during your degree, do an internship at an architecture firm, and get some experience with a specialist contractor. This varied experience will give you an insight into the different perspectives, priorities and pressures of different parts of your industry- all vital knowledge when bringing all sides together on a project.
Hone your leadership potential. This is a huge topic of its own, and there are a few key points to bear in mind. Cultivate crisis-management techniques, motivate your team by breaking up big tasks into short-term goals, and create an open culture where honest mistakes are accepted as a learning opportunity. Be a leader rather than a boss (see our last blog to find out how), and make sure you force yourself to tackle problems head-on rather than allowing them to build up. Also, to be viewed as a hands-on leader, make sure you’re seen on site regularly, asking questions and learning from the expertise of those around you.
Develop your communication skills. As a project manager, you’re going to need to effectively communicate with people from all walks of life, from the very wealthy client through to the newest carpenter apprentice. Knowing how to project an image of calm authority when talking to an increasingly worried client is invaluable- as is your ability to motivating the newest of your team with an encouraging word, or lightening up an overworked team with a joke. You will also need to speak in front of groups of people and make presentations, so if you hate public speaking, it’s time to deal with that head-on. Remember to work on your written skills too- you’ll spend a lot of time communicating via emails or PM software message boards, so it’s crucial that your written communication style is clear.
Use the tools! No project manager can survive without some kind of software to help keep track of tasks, schedules, budgets, and permits, and there are increasingly sophisticated systems designed purely for the construction industry. However, the software won’t do it all for you- far from it. Use the tools to start benchmarking tasks, and analysing what’s slowing you down, or blowing out your budget. On top of your regular weekly reporting (which should be automated through your software to save time), also keep candid, private reports of your own to establish what went wrong and right, where you personally need to improve, and weak and strong staff members, suppliers, and contractors. This information bank will prove invaluable as you move throughout your career.