The project manager is usually the most important person on a civil engineering job. They are the leading the team, hitting deadlines and fighting fires. The project manager is the one who takes the entire job from a concept, to a drawing, to a realised building. Completing an entire project is a fantastic feeling and one that never gets old. If this strikes a chord with you, perhaps you’ve got what it takes to be a great project manager. We’ve compiled a list of essential skills needed for the project manager job. Think you’ve got what it takes? Then keep reading.
Communication is the single most important aspect of a project manager’s job. They are responsible for explaining and communicating the entire vision of the project. They need to connect with the tradesmen on the site and speak their language. They need to work closely with architects and clearly communicate the vision. Finally, they need to report back to investors and shareholders about progress. They need to operate at every level with clarity.
Competence is the key to respect. When every member of the team respects you, you’ve done your job well. The best project managers are respected by each aspect of the team. That’s how they get the difficult projects through on a deadline. And it all comes from competence. Quite simply, you need to be great at your job. And not just your job, but everyone else’s too. You need an understanding of plumbing to confidently instruct the plumbers. You need to understand heating and cooling to liaise with suppliers. You need to understand every small detail the architect is telling you. Competence is key.
Problem solving is a huge part of a project manager’s day. During the planning stages, it’s all about honing and refining. Yet, once the build is underway, 75% of your job will be fighting fires. You’ll be working against tough deadlines and budgets that are running away from you. It’s your job to come up with solutions and find answers. Project managers need to make quick decisions and stick to them.
Teamwork is the driving force behind a civil engineering project. The final build is the culmination of many teams and trades coming together. You’re in charge of them all. The entire team revolves around you. You need to inspire the roofers to work together with the bricklayers. This ethos of teamwork all starts with you.
Having said that, you must learn to delegate. The core element of teamwork is allowing people to get on with their jobs. Trust in the expertise of others and give them room to work. Don’t micromanage and remember to keep your distance. Your job is to steer the ship. Keep your eye on the horizon, not down in the trenches.
Inspiration is the final trick in the book. This one is not easily learnt and is difficult to explain. You need to find a way to inspire every worker with a shared vision. Give everyone something bigger to work towards and they’ll all come together.
These are the essential personal skills of a project manager. Still think you’ve got what it takes? Good luck all the best!