The Top 3 Traits of the Perfect Construction Project Manager

Although there is no such thing as perfect, there are traits I could hit the repeat button with that we hear over and over again from hiring managers seeking to add project management staff. These top three encompass other ancillary traits, yet if a Project Manager has the top three, they most likely have the additional traits that accompany them.

#1. Willing to Learn and Always Learning

Yes, you can possess all the common traits and in addition have excellent constructability, technology, and organizational and communication skills, yet the day a Project Manager thinks they have nothing to learn, can’t learn from others on their team, or needs to be the one to provide all the answers, they drop to the bottom of the ranks as Project Manager.

A Construction Project Manager is the quarterback and sets the tone of the project. A Construction Project Manager’s job is to own the overall responsibility for the construction of project(s) they are assigned to. They must possess the knowledge, experience, and humble confidence to engage and professionally interact with design professionals, consultants, and clients while successfully directing the overall internal project team and other construction-related personnel in planning, coordinating, and safely executing the work per the contract documents, schedule, and budget.

If an individual in Construction Management holds the title of Project Manager but is not responsible for the overall project management per the contract, schedule, and budget because they have a Senior Project Manager, a Project Executive, or another person of title above them, it is not because that person does not allow them to do their job. The Perfect Project Manager owns the responsibility regardless of the team structure they are assigned to because they possess two other traits that make them a perfect project manager.

#2. Capable of Delegating

Whether delegating up or down on the organizational chart, Perfect Project Managers are organized communicators who don’t need to control everything, although they have everything under control. They don’t fear a loss of authority or responsibility by allowing others to take charge of certain particulars of the job from a task, communication, documentation and in authority. They stay informed through the others involved and the technology tools agreed on for the project cycle. They keep their superiors informed; they are not intimidated and do not think it is their superior’s responsibility to keep them informed. They ask questions if they need to know or understand something from others associated with the projects under their responsibility. They lead others on how to communicate for the success of the project. They lead through the organizational chart and the responsibilities assigned, whether others do or not, and they know how to adapt to utilize the resources they have both up and down on the organizational chart.

#3. They Know the Project Inside and Out

The Perfect Project Manager knows the client, site, plans, specific actions, and contract. They know everything within these items and what play they have without adversely affecting relationships, budget, and schedule. They know their project team and get to know the strengths and weaknesses of each member, including internal and external teammates, consultants, and anyone affiliated with the job at the contractual level. They know the schedule and the budget and are on top of the plans for the project. If they don’t know something immediately or need to verify a current status, they know which team member or document will give a quick and accurate answer.

If a Perfect Project Manager existed, they would win the battlefield of the mind and overcome thoughts of adversity or possible defeat, focusing on the best wins possible under the restraints assigned to the project itself. Perfect Project Managers don’t just know construction administration and documentation tasks, they have foresight, attitudes, and aptitudes to continually better themselves and those around them. They set the example, owning their responsibilities and earning their paycheck as Construction Project Manager.

Do you know a Project Manager whom you might describe as “The Perfect One” or at least striving to get there? I know a few who are “pretty close” because they know what they don’t know and have no problem learning and asking to learn. The best part for them is they have career choices galore and often can choose a good share of their team, but even if they don’t, they “Make it Happen.”

To More Near Perfect Project Managers,

Suzanne Breistol


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