13 Feb

8 Characteristics of a Great Construction Manager

Posted by Brad Holtkamp

Although construction projects are unarguably a team effort, construction managers serve as their backbone. As such, the difference between weak and strong leadership can play a huge role in the final results of a whole group’s efforts. 

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Here are eight traits every great construction manager must have.

1. Enthusiasm

Sometimes, people are so hard at work that they forget the purpose of what they’re doing; they begin to see the individual steps as the whole job, rather than considering what the finished product will be. 

An awareness of what a construction project is ultimately meant to be—the why this thing is being built? factor—is key to what makes a great manager. Their enthusiasm to see the project through to its ultimate purpose will motivate the entire team to respect the significance of what they do, and work harder to do it the best they can.

 

2. Organization/Priorities

Construction projects almost always go through changes, whether it’s shifting deadlines, a bump (up or down) in budget, or a change in the availability of resources. 

That means, as a construction manager, you will absolutely need to write and rewrite the plan, likely several times over. Being able to prioritize what needs to be done soonest, and always staying on top of what you have at your disposal (in terms of minutes, money, and materials) are pivotal to success.

 

3. Knowing Your Workers’ Skills

As a construction manager, you’ll be looking after a (fairly sizable) team. You should be aware of who excels at what, and give the right job to the right person. 

Everyone in your team will have skills and experience, and of course the hope is that they’ll be able to adapt these skills to various problems, but that doesn’t negate the fact that individual workers will shine brightest in certain areas, and therefore be best utilized in certain tasks.

 

4. Team Player

Construction managers are responsible for bringing everyone together and keeping morale high. Directly related to these characteristics, a construction manager should be friendly and approachable. 

Why? 

Because when workers are happy with their management, it fosters better work habits, and it also opens communication for feedback, which lets the manager improve even further (and make sure everybody is on the same page)!

 

5. Communication Skills

Communication skills are central to good management of any kind. There’s simply not much as important as a construction manager’s ability to delegate tasks (detailed in #3); furthermore, good communication might mean being able to look at the total scope of the construction project, and break it down realistically into small, doable tasks given to each member of your team. 

On a simpler level, making sure no detail gets ignored or forgotten about and that everybody has gotten the memos that apply to them are essential parts of managing a team.

 

6. Optimism

Being down is no good. When you’re leading a team, you need to be optimistic and confident that the project will be successful, believe that every one’s role is important and every worker is valuable, and that level-headed problem-solving will always get you through the day (more on this in #8). 

 

7. Calmness under Pressure

Related to #6, calmness under pressuremeans understanding that a construction project will force you to face particular challenges, and there is always a way to figure out a solution if cool heads are put together and everybody stays on course. Panicking simply doesn’t do any good for anyone.

 

8. Problem Solving

Problem solving of every kind—whether technical, monetary, or social (i.e. addressing complaints about a particular project)—is a must in the world of construction management. 

You don’t know ahead of time what obstacles a construction project will face, and as such, you need to think quickly, pragmatically, realistically, and diplomatically, sometimes figuring out solutions within a month, and other times within an hour. 

Topics: skills

Brad Holtkamp

Brad brings 15 years of Canadian and international staffing industry experience to his role as vice president, Western Canada. He’s an HRIA and TEC Canada member and has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Brad has significant experience providing staffing solutions for customers, with specific expertise in permanent search, contract recruitment, and payroll delivery. With a love of sports and the outdoors, Brad can often be found in a rink, on a bike, or in the mountains with his wife and two daughters.

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