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Five key skills for success as a project manager in construction

Britain’s construction industry is currently undergoing a period of recovery after a tricky few years. With more than 150,000 construction jobs set to be created over the next five years, and the government pledging £2bn to create more affordable housing, the outlook is bright.

The largest sector of growth within construction is set to be managerial and professional roles, which are forecast to grow by 7.8%. This is no surprise: though budget, timing, workload and even the planning process will all play their part, the most important element of any project is having great management. Specifically, that means a construction project manager.

Combining an in-depth knowledge of the industry with the practical skills needed to manage everything from timeframes to finances, a good project manager can make a significant difference in the overall success of a construction project.

Here are five key skills you need to thrive in this role:

Clear communication

A crucially important skill for any project manager is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with people at every level of the build. Great communication lies at the heart of any strong relationship, and many stakeholders will expect to be kept informed of every development along the way. In the construction industry, where conditions can change at the drop of a hat, there are so many different elements to juggle- from materials to managing skilled workers at the building site.

A skilled project manager will be good at listening to and breaking down information into small, easily-understandable tasks that can be delegated to staff, or communicated to leaders. Today’s field collaboration technology lets this happen even more effectively and efficiently, giving project managers the ability to stay in touch with the people on the ground at every stage of the build.

Reassessing and re-prioritising

Over the course of a project build, many different factors are likely to influence change, especially when it comes to time and money. For instance, weather might impact the roofing of a new building, which in turn will free up labourers. Though a flexible plan should already be in place, construction project managers need to keep on top of all the projects that are going on, from laying out the foundations of a house to mapping the plumbing lines, so they can quickly reassess and reprioritise tasks according to the information they have at hand.

In the role of project manager, you need to be prepared for every eventuality so the project can grow and develop successfully: make sure you’re constantly on the ball, so you don’t get caught out.

Risk management

Professionals within the construction industry work with potentially dangerous machines, and if things go wrong it can be easy to blame that failure on the project manager. After all, when you have your finger on the pulse of so many projects, you should be able to spot and deal with the risk before anything goes wrong.

Though most of it is down to experience, risk management should be a key skill for any project manager. Risks, by definition, aren’t urgent, so many teams often fail to take them seriously, which can be a mistake. Good project managers will ask their team for advice, and be confident enough to raise issues with others, even if they might seem small. After all, once you can predict issues, you can plan for them.

Leadership

Leadership is essential for project managers, who must be adept at managing a full team of individuals across many sections of a construction project and being able to lead with confidence.

From engineers who plan the build to the skilled builders and plumbers who execute it, a project manager needs to manage expectations as well as timeframes and finances, inspiring people and communicating a clear vision at every stage of the project. For leaders, confidence and preparation is key, and in a sector where one project involves hundreds of small projects running simultaneously, strong leadership is required to keep them all aligned.

Learning and adapting

An effective project manager will always keep abreast with the latest developments in the construction industry. With new trends like sustainability and green planning gaining ground within the industry, and new technologies like 3D planning and BIM transforming the way in which the industry operates, the best project managers are always aware of what kinds of strategies can be used in planning, managing goals and project initiation.

Keep learning, and you’ll be able to spot- and take advantage of- the latest developments to improve within the role, and flourish as a project manager.

Planning for success with Anderselite

At Anderselite, we go the extra mile to find the brightest project managers in the construction industry, connecting them to jobs that will help them flourish and grow. Why wait? Take the first step today!

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