This is an excerpt from the Construction Management Training manual available for purchase on this website. The proceeds from the manual help support the podcast and keep this thing going. thanks for your support.
What does it take to manage a construction site? How about a boat load of patience, a great attitude and a ton of know how. When I think of a competent Construction Manager I think of a person with management skills as well as technical knowledge of job site management. CM’s have to wear multiple hats on the job, they are leaders of people and managers of projects. I say people first because we don’t manage people we lead them and depending on the size of the job there could be hundreds of trades people working at any point during the day. A good CM needs to have the respect of the people working on their job site or they will quickly lose control of it. People follow leaders, not managers. Once the CM has established themselves as the leader of the project they can set the tone for quality, safety, cleanliness and punctuality of the trades as well as every other aspect of the job that affects the overall outcome for the entire project.
In addition to leading the people on the job, a good CM must also have the clerical skills to manage the schedule and budget. The production schedule is what drives the project. Without a working schedule the trade workers will not know when to show up. The CM must constantly up-date and manage the schedule in order for work to flow in an efficient manner. If they can do that the trade workers will be able to perform their work without delay and with a higher degree of quality. Believe me when I say that managing a schedule can be a balancing act, particularly if your workers get behind or there are delays.
Every CM understands the importance of managing the project budget, or they won’t be employed as CM’s very long. The point almost every construction project is to make money for someone. There will always be cost overruns on a construction project, the trick is to be able to predict where they will occur and try to budget for them. An easy way to control costs is to understand the scopes of work in the trade partner contracts. Competent CM’s know this and are familiar with what is contract work and what might constitute an extra payment to a trade partner. Tenured CM’s are able to predict where extra dollars will be spent prior to even starting the job. By the way, this is also why it is so hard to find tenured, competent CM’s. Those that employ them are rarely willing to let them leave, and will pay them a premium to stay.
Construction Managers are leaders with great time management and organizational skills. They are clever, and technically savvy as it relates to building trades, means and methods. They are driven, but know when to slow down to prevent future problems but can push the trades to complete projects on time.
Construction Management is not for everyone, but for those people willing to learn and dedicate themselves to the craft this can be a very rewarding career both professionally and financially.