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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Council Post: What To Look For In A Project Manager

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By Kahl Orr, the founder of Rise, a digital agency that builds high-performing, custom websites and apps for some of the fastest-growing brands.

Running your own company can be extremely exciting and overwhelming at the same time. You spend every waking moment doing everything to ensure the continued growth of the company, but at some point, you may realize that the growing pains are too much to handle on your own. Cue the role of project manager. Hiring a project manager can give you and your executive team room to focus on building the business while the project manager holds the responsibility of making sure nothing slips through the cracks.

According to 2020’s Pulse of the Profession® from Project Management Institute, organizations that undervalued project management as a strategic competency for driving change reported 67% more of their projects completely failing. Growing your company successfully can begin with your team prioritizing project management and performance. Finding a highly capable project manager to run essential tasks and projects for you, as you and your team focus on the bigger picture, can lead to success in marketing and networking as well as on client projects and deliverables.

Let’s take a look at what you should look for when bringing on a project manager.

Internal Vs. External Hire 

The first option when looking for a project manager is to elevate an existing team member into the role. For creative agencies, for example, this may be a developer or a designer. Hiring a project manager from within minimizes the onboarding process, as the individual already understands the culture and needs of the organization. This person may already have established relationships with the individuals and vendors that they will be working with and can easily direct your internal resources.

However, bringing a project manager on as an external hire can have its benefits as well. While your company culture may be well-established, an external hire can bring new ideas and objectivity to the project. They may have a fresh perspective on your strategies that have not been brought to the table quite yet, as well as access to other resources outside of your standard vendors.

Task Management And Delegation

One of the strongest skills a project manager can have is the ability to sort through the strengths and weaknesses of each person on the team.

By having a deep understanding of who is best at what, the project manager can delegate responsibilities to the correct employees in order to get the project done in the most efficient, and successful, way.

Great Communication 

Earlier this year, Zety compiled the skills most mentioned on project manager resumes. Two of the top three of these skills were communication (seen on 18% of the resumes) and leadership (seen on 17% of the resumes).

Communication is another skill that may seem obvious, but good communication is truly essential for a successful project manager. They’ll be wearing a lot of hats and dipping their toe across multiple teams, so clear communication will keep the project organized.

If a deadline is missed, a change has to be made or something isn’t yet approved, the project manager needs to be able to clearly communicate this across the teams and to each manager involved.

Leadership Skills

It’s not surprising that leadership was one of the top three skills, considering that many of the people the project manager will be working with will look to them for guidance and solutions while the project is being completed.

As well, in order for employees to easily take direction, they must trust and respect the project manager as a capable leader.

Ability To Move Projects Forward And Create A Schedule

Any project management role will have a fair amount of logistical work involved, which means that the ideal project manager will be able to develop a schedule for each team member and know what each day of the project involves. This includes billing due dates, scheduling meetings that work with team members’ availability, task deadlines and more. If the project manager is handling multiple projects, perhaps for several clients, for example, they also must be proficient at capacity planning and balancing available resources against other commitments.

If a due date is missed, it’s important that the project manager does not stress and instead is able to shift around the schedule to make the change work.

Problem-Solving Skills

That brings us to problem-solving. Challenges happen, due dates are missed, budgets go over and employees don’t get along or get sick. There are endless hurdles to get over when you’re running a business, but a project manager should be able to react swiftly during times of conflict.

If you find a candidate who can think on their feet and figure out a solution for any challenge thrown at them, don’t let them go.

Negotiation, Relationship And Team-Building Skills

When challenges arise, part of the solution may require negotiation or team-building efforts. Perhaps a pricing quote that was provided at the beginning of the project is now higher, throwing the bottom line off. Maybe a team who was supposed to have a deliverable to you by a certain date is a week late.

Whatever the challenge may be, the project manager should be able to solve the issue with poise and ease, negotiating a solution and building strong relationships both within the organization and with vendors.

Final Thoughts

As a business owner, you have enough on your plate while focusing on the mission and success of your organization. Hiring a project manager will not only help with business growth but will efficiently and effectively free up your time from what could be day-to-day distractions. Finding a candidate with a majority, if not all, of the above skills will alleviate those growing pains and take your business to the next level.

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