Construction projects are commitments. They need to be completed by a reliable, dedicated team. Of course, a construction team needs a skilled construction project manager.
Managers need to set expectations and lead a team through the entire duration of a project. Good ones are committed to the project and their team. Bad ones miss deadlines, exceed budgets, and foster unsafe working conditions.
I’ve asked Ron Milejczak to share his thoughts on what makes a good construction project manager. He is Kalos’s lead project manager for the Walmart division.
Table of Contents
Construction project manager managing expectations
A good construction project manager can successfully manage their expectations. A manager must understand a project’s budget, scope, and schedule.
As great as it would be to have tons of money to burn on projects, it just doesn’t happen. Even mega-corporations have limited funds. Good managers understand finances, and they know the cost of supplies and labor. They will not underestimate their expenses and go over budget.
It’s up to the manager to ensure that all parties know exactly what a project entails. They also aim to understand the client’s perception of the scope. The manager can explain the procedures and goals in a way that the client understands, aiming to reduce the risk of confusion wherever possible. They ensure that everyone understands their roles. When everyone knows the scope, all parties can keep realistic expectations.
Scheduling requires time management and organization skills. Managers must make sure that tasks get completed on time. On top of that, they have to keep track of who works on those tasks. It’s overwhelming for an incompetent manager. However, good managers organize their workforce and commit to their deadlines.
Communication skills of a construction project manager
The manager is the point of contact for all parties: employees, subcontractors, and the client. As such, the manager keeps everyone on the same page throughout the project.
Communication skills go hand-in-hand with leadership skills. The manager must maintain constant communication because everyone needs to know what their role is at all times. By extension, a manager must also learn how to communicate with each team member.
Everybody understands instructions differently. A good manager makes sure the directions are clear to everyone. For example, a manager can accommodate employees with impaired hearing by making the procedures accessible in a written or visual format.
Effective communication skills also keep morale high. Social skills come into play here. Managers must be diplomatic communicators. Nobody wants to work for someone who demeans them, so many construction teams benefit from having a manager who respects and encourages them.
Ron Milejczak believes that the coaching leadership style is most effective. Nurturing your workers’ strengths is vital in project management. Still, you can’t lower your expectations. Good leaders focus on growth and stay positive, but they don’t forsake education or safety standards in the process.
A manager who doesn’t care about safety is a bad manager.
Safety is one of those things you can’t worry about as issues arise. A manager needs to be able to tackle potential problems before anybody gets hurt. Education and training are the top priorities of good managers. They make sure their teams are aware of hazards and equipped with the knowledge and tools to handle them safely.
Managers are also responsible for making sure everyone has the proper PPE. They also enforce safety procedures and assess risks on-site. Sharp observation skills and a willingness to be present are necessary.
As a manager who works in Walmart stores, Ron Milejczak thinks about the safety of his workers and the shopping public. Workers will be aware of hazards from their training and everyday work, but the shopping public won’t be. You can’t train the public, so a manager can only reduce risks to keep everyone safe.
Building subcontractor relationships
We’ve touched on client relationships, but we shouldn’t neglect the subcontractors.
It’s up to the manager to communicate the project’s scope to subcontractors. The key is to convey information as clearly as possible. A good manager leaves no room for confusion. They do this by providing proper training and addressing misunderstandings quickly and with tact.
As with any team effort, a partnership mentality builds strong relationships. A manager must relate to subcontractors and “speak the language” of their trades. Most of it comes down to understanding the subcontractors’ work and being considerate. Good managers have the social skills to make and maintain strong subcontractor relationships.
A good construction manager maintains standards and communicates clearly from start to finish. They make proper training and education a priority, and they build up their teams on knowledge and encouragement.
A subpar manager will be overwhelmed by the responsibilities, and they may lack the character traits needed. Good leaders and managers have the trifecta of people skills, communication skills, and organization skills to get jobs done promptly and safely.