Construction management is a stressful but rewarding career. The process of planning a building project from start to finish takes time and is a very tedious undertaking. Construction managers must learn the skills to manage a broad scope of responsibilities, including juggling change orders or unexpected delays, all while working to ensure the project is delivered on time and within scope.
The construction manager is responsible for supervising a large team of workers while maintaining an efficient and safe working environment. Due to the high levels of stress, it becomes pretty easy to distinguish the exceptionally talented managers from the rest of the pack. Skilled construction managers can effectively keep track of logistics, such as time and budget, while many are just barely scraping by to make deliverable dates.
—Organization and Collaboration as a tool for interpersonal and team success
—Flexibility and Transparency to encourage an open streamline of communication on the job site
—Importance of communication and emotional intelligence for construction project managers
—Benefits of delegating and prioritizing tasks for maximizing efficiency on a project
—Time, cost, and risk management and the role they play in the success of a project
Here are 9 construction management skills every construction manager should have in their “toolbox” to set them apart from the rest:
Construction projects are notoriously difficult to organize, as each piece builds on the last, and any delays can have a domino effect on the outcome and timeline of the entire project. An organized construction manager can effectively balance several responsibilities at once and can keep on top of all of them simultaneously. Many managers are beginning to use project management software instead of spreadsheets and other tools to assist them in day-to-day management activities such as timekeeping, daily reports, and work orders.
Having an open stream of communication between all workers on the job site is key to a project’s success, and collaboration helps make this a reality. In construction, there are a numerous amount of different specialized subcontractors involved in achieving a final project. Collaboration from the planning phase to close out can have a significant impact on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of a project.
Many contractors are choosing to use cloud-based database management systems to help streamline communication and collaboration on the job site. By doing this, contractors can track and maintain consistent communication and quickly and efficiently remedy any errors or delays occurring, preventing a domino effect that delays the project as a whole.
- Flexibility and Transparency
Good managers can effectively adapt to changes in the project and keep tabs on all parts of the project simultaneously. Effective communication is an essential part of the construction manager’s proverbial toolbox to help ensure a project’s overall success.
Communication skills are a necessity in almost any job–but especially for a construction manager. Working with several different stakeholders at once requires a construction manager to have clear, practical, and concise communication–one of the most important construction management skills.
Consistent communication can help clarify the role each worker plays and minimize the chance of delay or rework. By using project management software, a construction manager can communicate important information with workers, including optimal start times, the flow of tasks, or any changes to the scope of the project instantly across the entire job site.
- Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, sometimes called EQ (emotional quotient), refers to the interpersonal skills required for project management. Being a successful construction project manager is about more than just the vocational skills of the job–it requires effective leadership as well. Ensuring the wellbeing of your employees helps create a positive working environment, resulting in happy, hardworking employees.
A genuinely successful construction manager understands the synergistic benefits of working as a team. Project managers are not meant to load all responsibilities onto their plate at once, but rather understand which tasks can be effectively delegated to members of their team. The goal is to complete the work efficiently and effectively, and one person can not do it all.
Construction managers need to be able to determine what aspects of the project are most relevant and take precedence to ensure the project is delivered on time and within scope. Keeping tabs on your to-do list and being able to order them in a way that prioritizes the most important ones is an essential skill for construction managers to master.
- Time management
Time management is often one of the biggest pitfalls of a construction project. When workers are spending a significant portion of their day waiting to begin working, it slows down the entire project and ends up being extremely costly. According to the USG + U.S. Chamber of Commerce, almost 90 percent of construction workers classify the industry as being unproductive.
Simply investing in a better time management system can have a massive payoff in the long run by increasing worker productivity, overall efficiency, and attitude towards the project. Some areas for improving time management include site preparation, workday planning, and travel time.
- Cost Management
Cost management is an integral part of effective construction project management. Without successful cost management, a construction project will not be successful. Cost management entails budget creation and management, using schedules and estimates created in the planning phase. One of the most laborious aspects of the job is trying to make sure the project will stick to the approved budget, which is accomplished through risk mitigation.
- Risk management
Risk management is an essential part of construction management. It is the nature of the construction world that things do not go as planned, so having robust contingency plans and the ability to manage any unplanned changed to the scope or timeline of a project is key to a project’s success.
By having set risk management procedures, managers can plan for delays and budget overruns and have a set plan of action on how to remedy the issues ahead of time. Contingency plans help prevent having to pay premiums to get the project done on time when something goes wrong at the last minute. For example, construction management software can track and provide statuses of submittals, RFIs, and change orders, which can signal unexpected bottlenecks or potential project delays.
It’s important to note that contingency plans are based on an evaluation of possible risks. They are not intended to cover changes to the scope of a project based on changing opinions or specifications. An intended change to the scope of a project should be balanced out by reducing the budget in another area, not relying on a contingency budget.
Mastering these construction management skills can have a multitude of benefits, resulting in a win-win situation for stakeholders and workers showing higher levels of satisfaction with their output. An effective construction manager can reduce wasted time, manage costs, meet deadlines and project scope goals, and improve overall attitude towards the project. Proper construction management skills can help maximize employee time to complete jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible.