When you are given the task of finding a new project manager what do you look for in them? The technical skills which are needed for this role are important but there are also some personal qualities which you will want to pay a lot of attention to as well. There are a number of different skills which are essential for this role and ideally you will want someone with all of the following.
Communication is vital in any project and you will want a project manager who knows when to listen and when to talk. A formal interview setting is ideal for checking out this aspect of your candidates’ personalities. There are some technical skills which can be learned on the job but it is very difficult to teach someone to become a good communicator if they don’t already have the necessary skills.
In a project setting lots of things can happen at once and project managers need to be able to think on their feet. There will be times when the project ticks along smoothly and they don’t need to do an awful lot of thinking but they need to be able to make the shift in gears needed to react quickly and effectively to evolving situations. Of course, there are also times when plans and actions can be thought out with more time and comfort.
The project manager needs to be able to lead a team but they also need to be able to be part of that team. This can be a difficult balancing act for a lot of potential project managers while it comes more easily to others. Finding a genuine team player who will fit in and respect their colleagues is important for any firm looking for someone to take on this position.
How does the candidate solve problems? The right interview questions and some questions about their past career can help you get an idea of their problem solving skills. There is no way that you can expect to cover every possible situation with them but you will want to get a feel for their way of thinking and solving problems if you can.
With a project team working under them, stakeholders looking for attention and milestones to be met it is perhaps an understatement to say that project managers need to be organized. In fact, this is one of the most important qualities they will need to show you. As part of this we can also count keeping calm when things get hectic, as leading a difficult project through tough times is something which most good project managers need to do at some point.
The project manager needs to build strong working relationships with the stakeholders and also within the project team. No matter how good they are at are all of the other things mentioned they won’t be very successful if they can’t do this. There are a number of different ways of doing this but you should definitely be looking for someone friendly, approachable and who will look for solutions instead of blaming others.
The changing demands and deadlines of project work mean that it is best undertaken by someone with a high degree of flexibility. It isn’t the right kind of work for anyone who wants to know exactly what they will be doing each day for the next few months. Projects can move quickly and the project manager more than anyone needs to be able to keep up and show a high degree of flexibility. The candidate’s resume and background might give you an idea as to how flexible they are but you can’t be expected to make a sound judgement just on this basis. It is more important to see what kind of personality they have and whether they have a can-do attitude or not.
The final point is an obvious one but one which we can’t overlook. In any type of job it pays to be a hard worker but for a project manager it is even more essential. Projects tend not to be pieces of work which require the manager to work flat out every single day from the start to the finish. Rather, it is about knowing how to plan ahead and put in the effort when it is most required. It is a definitely a role which requires a smart worker as much as a hard worker.
Stay up to date with the latest Project Management tips and information.