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The 4 Must-Have Qualities Of Construction Project Managers


The construction field is strapped for skilled professionals, which has created high demand for exceptional management personnel. The need for talented construction project managers is expected to grow 16% between now and 2022, 11% above the national average for job growth. 

Construction project managers are the glue that holds development projects together. They take over the latter stage planning and organizing of a project, and act as the direct point of contact between the owner, general contractor and subcontractors engaged on the project.

Global recruiting firm Michael Page places tenure and relevant project experience, company experience and personality among the top factors when searching for construction leadership. From a deep knowledge of the business to the ability to inspire the next generation of leaders, here are four must-have qualities of construction project managers. 

1. They know their trade inside and out 

Project managers need to have extensive knowledge of the construction process, including contracts, permits and safety codes. Earning an advanced degree in a construction-related industry like civil engineering or building science is expected. 

In a field where the wrong decision can cost time, money and employee safety, practical application of these skills is also critical. Beyond a degree, good managers bring years of experience to the job. Whether from working as an intern, in the trades or eventually as a supervisor, an on-site education yields a deeper insight into construction processes. 

Superintendents who have worked on large projects and have solid tenure at their current company are hard to find since the recession, according to Michael Page. Companies want leaders with a good reputation in the market and a strong subcontractor base that will follow them to new projects where possible.

Because of this, references from subcontractors provide invaluable insight into a candidate's true capabilities.


2. They have strong organizational and analytical skills

Construction project managers control the time, cost and quality of construction, from residential and commercial buildings to large public infrastructure projects. The high level of responsibility requires a manager who can juggle numbers, bids, schedules, permits, job reports and teams of employees. Unexpected delays and materials costs can negatively effect budgets. 

Managers need to be able to roll with the punches and adjust their numbers and schedules accordingly while proactively keeping all stakeholders abreast of changes throughout. Knowledge of construction management software is an advantage in today’s evolving, tech-savvy construction market. 

3. They have high EQ and are multitalented 

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the measure of an individual’s capacity to recognize his/her own emotions and those in others. In leadership roles, having a strong sense of self-awareness and empathy helps to solve problems and keep employee morale high. On construction sites, managers with self-confidence, initiative and empathy can motivate labor teams to complete projects on time and on budget, even in the face of significant challenges that would derail lesser teams. 

Employees quit managers. A manager with a high EQ can interact with a number of personalities and implement effective strategies for workload and stress management. This ensures a smooth process and avoids projecting negativity onto the rest of the team.

Fatigue and unrealistic expectations of site-based staff are a major driver for people leaving. "Stress testing" people before hiring them is a critical and valuable part of the selection process. 

Candidates who can put on a hard hat while out in the field and a suit when presenting to or entertaining clients are also in demand. Having people who can do more than just manage a project creates a more efficient team. Candidates should be able to estimate and participate in preconstruction, as well as engage in business development and networking, among other responsibilities. 

4. They can be mentors 

Ideal construction project managers are knowledgeable, optimistic and can organize large teams. But if they cannot pass on their skills to the next generation, the value gained from having them on the team will be lost if they leave or retire. 

As managers gain on-site experience, sharing their expertise with more junior team members allows for the transfer of skills. Managers who can effectively and confidently train their staff make the team stronger. Education can also be an effective delegation tool.

On construction sites where multiple processes are happening simultaneously, a well-trained team allows for task completion without the manager overseeing every detail.

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