Good question and, from what I understand, employers are actually having to look for construction managers and struggling to find suitable ones.
The majority of construction employers have their own special areas in which they work; tin sheds, commercial fit-out, housing, etc..This means the first thing they have to look for in a construction manager is experience and competence in that area of our industry. If they can’t get that because all the applicants are young, newly qualified graduates then the employer has to make provision to provide training.
Now we all know that a construction project of any size generates a lot of paperwork that needs to be dealt with. The construction manager the employer should be looking for is one who can handle this rather boring aspect of the job! If this is neglected that can incur some huge bills later on! What goes along with the paperwork is that the construction manager also has to generate some himself; memos, RFI’s, Minutes of Meetings, etc.. For this the employer has to look for some written communication skills.
The area which requires the widest range of communication skills, though, is verbal communication. The construction manager has to be able to discuss all kinds of things relating to, not only the project, but also, perhaps, peoples’ personal problems which could be affecting their performance on the job. This means he needs to be able to speak with people in anything from “Grunt” with some tradesmen to a more “official” kind of language with Architects, Public Sector people, etc..
Coupled with this is that the construction manager has to have excellent people skills because he has to work with staff at all levels. Sometimes the most difficult of these can be his own Directors!
Something which varies from country to country but which actually is at the top of the list in the U.K.; in their construction managers’ employers are looking for qualifications from their people. These include CSCS Cards (relating to Health and Safety in the work place) and First Aid in the Work Place.
Then we come across two qualities the employer needs from the construction manager which kind of run together. He needs to have a creative approach to problem solving and excellent organisational and planning skills to go along with that. The planning skills are kind of short-term, though. Their construction manager doesn’t have to be capable of coming up with detailed programs!
Construction managers have always been required to have pretty good maths skills. A good example of why are bricks! If a wall is going to be built then how many bricks are required for it? The same applies for calculating something like plaster boards for internal walls. Today, though, an additional, but related skill is required from them. They have to have pretty good IT skills because so much of their work, and communication with others, will involve using computers, tablets or even a smart phone.
All day long the construction manager has to deal with people coming up to him and asking for decisions! If he is clever he’ll realise that whoever is asking probably has the right answer to the question and he’ll go along with that. No matter, it will be seen as his decision and he will have to have the ability and mind-set to take on responsibility for it.
The last on the list for today of what employers are looking for in their construction managers is their ability to motivate a team. The “team” they require to be motivated can vary pretty widely. Is it just the site-based personnel or do they wish to include the Clients’ PM and their Consultants in that “team”? There is a big gap between the abilities to motivate these two different ones. What makes it difficult for the employer to pre-judge these abilities in their construction managers is that their qualities of leadership will be judged differently by different ”teams”! That ability is known as “leadership” and this is not something which can be claimed but is ascribed to someone by the rest of the team.
If the employer has a construction manager who fulfils all these criteria then it is pretty certain that the contracts they manage will complete on time, to budget and to standard!