Deadlines, details, and demands are part and parcel of any construction project, whether residential or commercial. Project managers are largely responsible for overseeing all the aspects of a construction job and a well-trained, experienced, and attentive superintendent or project manager can be the difference between having a flawlessly executed build or major, expensive headaches during construction. Identifying the traits that make for a great project manager is a must for builders that want to maximize productivity and keep costs in line.
Gene Lock is Chairman and CEO of Eclipse Brand Builders, a design build-firm providing commercial architectural, interior design, and construction management services in 13 states across the Southeastern United States. Insulation Institute recently spoke with Lock about the critical traits required for a stellar project manager and why training is so paramount for the profession.
Five Traits of a Great Project Manager
Lock says the best project managers will have numerous years of construction experience under their belts, which helps identify whether a subtrade is doing things correctly or not. In addition to experience, Lock called these attributes indispensable for great project managers:
- Organizational Skills
“A great project manager has to be as efficient with their time as possible,” Lock said. In construction, time is money and being able to juggle multiple projects and deadlines while keeping track of crucial elements of a variety of different ongoing projects is vital.
- Deep Understanding of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Requirements
Being knowledgeable about worker safety requirements is a must for project managers, and it’s a responsibility that builders don’t take lightly. Articulating and enforcing safety precautions on job sites helps reduce worker injuries and fatalities and reduces the risk to builders.
- Good Communications Skills
“Good communications skills, especially with clients are what we look for in a project manager,” Lock said. Patience in taking the time to explain, for example, what building codes require for construction projects and alternative approaches to design and construction elements is a skill set that not everyone has but is among the most important when communicating with customers. Those people skills are not just helpful with customers but also with employees.
- Tech Savviness
“Having a good grasp on the latest construction tech solutions and how to use them is a huge time saver on a project,” Lock said. The best project managers are comfortable with technology and know its advantages and limitations so that they spend less time trying to figure out the applications and devices and more time managing the actual project.
Working with people from a variety of different backgrounds is common in construction, so project managers need adaptability and a personality suited to getting along well with the people they work for as well as those they manage.
Training Helps Build Other Traits
While it’s great that the best project managers come ready on day one with the capabilities to see a construction project through to the finish, Lock says continuous training is imperative. “Eclipse brings all of its field personnel in from the field for continuing education each year for what we call our PM conference.” During that event, project managers hear from five or six guest speakers on a variety of topics – from installing insulation to HVAC equipment. “As new projects and materials come out, we want to keep our staff as up-to-date as possible, and this is also important when procedures are improved or changed. Project managers get updates on any new requirements that the company has and it’s a good way to ensure that everyone gets the same message and there’s no confusion.”
Lock believes that buildings will continue to become increasingly energy efficient – a trend he sees expanding for both residential and commercial construction. “The downside is that efficient and environmentally friendly buildings can sometimes cost more, but not always,” he said. “It is always a good thing to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible and where possible, expand those elements within a project.”