Behind the scenes of any major engineering project lies a project manager. These professionals are responsible for keeping projects moving forward on time and on budget. They are the team leaders, keeping everyone focused on their goals and helping them overcome snags from day one to the day the project closes. If you are interested in becoming an engineering project manager, here are five of the most important skills you will need to demonstrate.
It should go without saying that an engineering project manager must be a skilled communicator since communication is the cornerstone of their job. They need to be adept at speaking and writing and be exceptional listeners. It is important to understand the needs of stakeholders, leaders, team members and clients – especially those who may not be as technically inclined as the engineering staff. Communication is a two-way street and project managers should understand the most effective means and channels for their teams.
Engineering projects are complex and have multiple moving parts, and failure to prioritize tasks will ultimately lead to project failure. Project managers should understand the needs of the entire project inside and out and they must be able to focus on the most important things, at the right times, without getting bogged down in minutiae.
While it is the project manager’s job to keep things on schedule and on budget, they also need to be prepared for a host of unforeseen issues. No project ever goes off without a hitch, so it important for engineering PMs to be flexible and adaptable to roll with the punches, rather than getting mired down every time a project experiences a minor setback.
Engineering projects are a team effort, and PMs need the leadership ability to motivate people to do their best work. This means being personable and approachable, but also being diplomatic enough to deliver constructive feedback and keep people on task without coming off like a tyrant.
Everyone on a team has unique strengths and weaknesses. Successful engineering project managers know how to divide work among the team so each person is in a position to add the most value and make the biggest impact.