Four tips to becoming the next Project Manager superstar

1) Keep yourself outside of your comfort zone

It’s so much easier said than done. But it’ll make a difference. James Torres from JHL Constructors said it perfectly in a recent Q&A:

I think that's the biggest thing – constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone and with that the goods things come in return.

Is there something you’re unfamiliar with? Take the time, get familiar with the tool you want to learn how to use or platform you want to adopt, and level yourself up.

Maybe you’re a PM now but want to become the Director of Construction. Take a look at the job postings for those positions. Highlight the responsibilities and duties you’d need to have and focus on getting better at them a week or month at a time.

Push yourself to take that next step instead of going through the motions. Take on that task you’re not familiar with and challenge yourself to get better as a PM.

Think about all of those really great PMs you’ve had the chance to work with – they left an impression because they did their job well and did it even better the next time around.

2) Stay current

The best way to stay current is to ensure you’re in the mix. Think about your colleagues at other projects or other GCs in town and reach out to them, get feedback from them, and learn from them.

  • What processes have they implemented that are saving them time?

  • What do you do to handle X issues on site when they arise?

  • What technology have they adopted that are automating their day-to-day tasks?

  • What were the pros and cons of doing X?

  • What are you doing to maximize in-field adoption for X tool?

  • What tools are they using for closeout?

  • We’re looking for a new X subcontractor. Who would you recommend?

At the end of the day, you are all PMs and one goal in mind – finishing the project on time and on budget and ensuring that process goes as smoothly as possible.

Looking for other ways to stay in tune with your local community and peers related to construction? Reach out for coffee one-on-one, host an informal meet up with a group of PMs, and attend local construction trade shows or conferences.

3) Test, test, and test some more

We hear it time and time again: the construction industry is slow at adopting technology. That’s wrong.

The industry is catching up and there’s constantly new tools, technologies, and practices being launched to help get the job done faster.

Testing out new tools in order to streamline and automate current processes is what will set you apart from the competition. Playing it safe with what you have, and not adapting with new technologies, is only moving backwards.

Take that leap you’ve been hesitant on taking and test that new process or technology you think will make a difference for your project.

If it’s a success, then optimize it. Whether it’s optimizing the process next month or on the next project. If it helped you 2X your ROI, challenge yourself to 3X your ROI next time.

If it’s not a home run, you’re still bound to learn something. Maybe that process you thought would work for your project may be better suited for a fellow PM’s project.

Just make sure that if technology plays a role in your test, that you have a clear strategy in place to integrate that tech on your project.

4) Get your staff off the job

… Yes, you read that right. But we mean it in the best way possible. Your role as a project manager is to ensure that projects finish both on-time and on-budget. The longer your staff are on a project, the longer you are spending labor costs.

The objective is you’re trying to get your staff off the job. So ultimately, it's just managing the closeout throughout the entire duration of the project and in turn, hopefully closing out sooner than you expected. - James Torres

This shouldn’t just be your objective near the project’s closeout. The whole project process needs to work towards getting your project done on time, so that you can save labor costs, and hopefully, finish on budget.

This post on the 6 Super Helpful Tips to Avoid Common Construction Delays said it best:

"You can often trace out-of-control construction project costs back to one thing: an inability to finish on time."

Want to hear how James Torres – Senior Project Manager at JHL Constructors – became a PM superstar and won PM of the Year? Watch the full interview here.

Chris Miniellyfield