My brother is a builder. He started framing, thought if he could read blueprints he could do the building himself, and years later runs his own business. Just recently an opportunity surfaced to provide management services on a unique construction project, utilizing all his experience to date. In a phone call last week, we talked about his experience of being a Project Manager.
A few observations based on our conversation:
Large project or small, it’s the same skills.
Just the experience varies – and of course, industry knowledge; but in that regard, he observed:
“I don’t need to know the detail …. Just show me the process.”
Not an electrician, he asked someone to walk him through how power made it from an outside source into the building. He had it from there. All he needed to do was add timelines.
Good project management is about problem-solving.
For example, one department didn’t have what they needed while another had staff unassigned. They simply needed someone to coordinate resources. As a PM he saw the situation, proposed the solution, and communicated the plan.
The value of good project management is in the efficiencies – and savings.
Good PMs streamline the work, reducing stress, saving time, money, and effort.
All these things contribute to good project management i.e. the right skills, an ability to solve problems, and the benefit of someone who can keep things moving along.
Here is one more important observation …
The abilities to manage are different than those required to execute the work.
From a traits perspective … every job is unique; but in contrast to front line abilities (e.g. task focus and detail orientation), PM has a combination of characteristics which look like this:
- Making confident decisions (within their area of expertise) as they direct others
- Meeting regular deadlines, while handling regular interruptions
- Communicating information in a natural (non-chatty) manner
- Paying attention to important details – and leaving the rest to those doing the work
The good news is: these abilities are driven by traits – which can easily and accurately be measured in any candidate.
Even better, they can be modeled before a person is hired, providing a benchmark of the abilities required to hire those with a natural interest in PM activities – or any position for that matter.
Perhaps the missing factor for good PM in your company has been the need to find someone who WANTS to manage projects rather than trying to prove they CAN.
We invite you to explore this further for your own PM’s or anywhere you’re looking for the right person to fill an open seat.