Project Management: Key Components of the Project Manager’s Process (Part 3)

Norb Slowikowski / November 2015

In Part 2 of our Project Management series (September 2015 issue), we expanded on the role of the project manager by clarifying the core beliefs a PM must have in order to achieve ultimate success. In this section, we present the key components of the project manager’s process.

Develop the Project Manager Mission Statement
Let’s start with the simplest question: Why does the PM position exist? The PM exists to effectively manage the project from startup through closeout for the purpose of increasing productivity, maximizing profitability and acting as a support person to the foreman. That is the role in a nutshell. Now, let’s go through some of the PM mission statement deliverables:

  • Schedule and track progress of projects.
  • Manage and control costs.
  • Build positive relationships with internal and external customers.
  • Maintain effective coordination with other subs on the job.
  • Solve the GC’s problems and exceed customer expectations.

With all this in mind, meet with your project manager to develop a mission statement that best fits your company’s ethos. It’s important to lock down the role and expectations involved so that the PM knows where he stands.

Identify and Clarify the PM’s Six Key Job Responsibilities
For each key responsibility, you should define both “results expected” and “standards.” With this specific knowledge, the PM knows what he has to do in order to succeed at the role. Also, the supervisor knows exactly how to set up a system of accountability. Here are some traits that can be used as an example of these key responsibilities: planning and organizing, productivity/profitability, customer delight, safety, leadership/self-development, job knowledge/estimating.

Develop and Implement a Project Manager’s Accountability Checklist
The PM has to execute key activities for each phase of the construction process. Specific activities should be listed under each phase: job startup, job preparation and planning, managing the project (job in progress), and job closeout.
This checklist should be developed with input from the PM. The PM’s immediate supervisor will complete the checklist on a periodic basis and review the results with the PM. If taken seriously, this can be a very effective tool for monitoring and evaluating performance.

Create a Team Mentality
Simply put, a team is a group of high-energy people, individually different, with diverse skills that blend together to achieve a common goal. Everyone knows what a team should be in theory, but not many do what it actually takes to build an effective team in practice. So, here are the components you need to be thinking about in order to bring about a real team ethic:
Define what team members do.

  • Explore and solve problems in a cooperative manner.
  • Provide for a constant exchange of information.
  • Discuss opposing views openly with respect and appreciation for individual differences. Then, bridge the gap and get to a solution.

Collaborate and embrace change.

  • If you’re not changing, you’re not growing.
  • Change takes time and requires patience and perseverance.
  • Bringing about change is a specific process, not a hodge-podge of miscellaneous activities.
  • Change requires that you find a way around unexpected obstacles. Don’t “fold” at the first sign of adversity. Real change will occur when you’ve tested yourself.
  • Ongoing commitment to change requires support and coaching.

Implement the support team triangle. Ensure that the project team (superintendent, foremen, journeymen) all link up in the productivity improvement process. There are two necessary pieces to make the idea of the “Support Team Triangle” a reality.
First, the PM should visit the job site at least once a week to be a “support person” for the foreman. When the foreman has difficulty overcoming obstacles or resolving unreasonable demands from the GC’s superintendent, the PM should get involved and support the foreman in dealing with these issues. Being both visible and accessible is a key leadership trait.
Second, practice effective managing and leading: Satisfy customer needs. Meet the schedule. Build positive relationships. Achieve quality results. Maintain a safe work environment. Manage conflict.
In the next article we will look at creating a positive work climate so that people will not only like coming to work every day, but also do their best work daily.

Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.