Construction office managers have a foot in two worlds: they are familiar with the technical aspects of building and maintenance, but also understand the administrative workings of construction project management—such as budgeting, regulatory compliance, bidding, and managing employees.
Success in construction management means cultivating a diverse array of skills and knowledge. Students begin with high quality training, earn their stripes with several years of experience in the field, and work hard to keep building strengths in several essential areas.
Here are just a few of the core skills construction managers must build to earn respect, and truly stand out in this challenging profession.
Working with Data: Financial Management & Marketing
Managing a department within a construction company, or a contracting business, means working with research, numbers, and data analysis. Managers must be able to understand the financial position of their company, and figure out ways to help it remain profitable and attract new business.
Managing finances and developing marketing plans requires a specific technical skillset, which includes the following:
- generating and analyzing basic financial statements that show profits, losses, cash flow, expenses, etc. (in other words, staying up-to-date on the company’s overall financial performance on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis)
- creating a realistic and detailed budget (based on the company’s financial position and plans for future growth)
- overseeing payroll and bookkeeping (smaller departments and contractors may not have a full-time accountant to handle these tasks, and they will fall to the construction manager)
- researching and analyzing a target audience/customer base
- researching competing companies
- developing a marketing plan that draws together audience and competitive research, and presents data-based plans for new products, services, and overall growth
Students will be introduced to these concepts in construction manager training, and then continue to hone them over years of on-site experience. Knowledge of accounting software and principles, plus where to look online for market research, are essential to carrying out these duties effectively—and ultimately, ensuring your department is profitable.
Understanding the Bidding Process & Distribution Channels
In order to guide a department or contracting business toward the best projects, with the best tradespeople, and most competitive budgets, construction managers must understand the bidding process. They must develop a network of contractors and sub-contractors and specialists. They must understand how to effectively source materials, respond to job-site surprises, and manage unexpected costs during construction. Managers accomplish the above by buildings skills in areas such as:
- evaluating blueprints, schematics, assembly drawings, and orthographic projections
- estimating and take-offs
- material procurement and delivery procedures
- inventory control
- the components of bids, the bidding process, and how to develop realistically priced tenders
- effectively communicating with clients during the entire construction lifecycle, ensuring needs are met, and problems are resolved
Inspiring & Motivating the Construction Team
Understanding how to inspire and motivate a team is perhaps one of most important skills for construction mangers. They must cultivate an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect, dedication to high quality standards, and encourage team members to constantly improve their skills. This is a tall order for construction managers, but truly separates the best from the rest.
Some of the key skills and strategies needed to inspire a team and garner respect include:
- knowing how to connect with, attract, and retain talented tradespeople
- understanding how to delegate tasks, rather than trying to micro-manage every aspect of each project
- allowing ambitious team members to explore new skills and take on new tasks, including supervisory roles
- giving praise where it has been earned, and setting up reward and recognition programs
- periodically consulting construction staff for input and advice
- seeking out professional development in key areas for continued growth, to set a strong example for the team, and prove worth as a leader
A good construction management program will always include instruction on human resource management. Managers need training on the psychology of group dynamics and employer-employee relations in order to build teams that outperform the competition.
Ready to learn more about becoming a construction manager? Looking for a reputable training program in the Toronto area?
Take a look at the Construction Office Manager program offered by the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute in Toronto. Training is comprehensive, hands-on, and takes just 8 months to complete. Visit the program page for a complete list of required courses, career options, and to chat live with a knowledgeable advisor. We’ll help you get started!