5 Qualities to Look for when Hiring a Project Manager

5 Qualities to Look for when Hiring a Project Manager

Project management isn’t only about organization. Of course you want a project manager who can stay on top of the details and has all their ducks in a row, but those skills are the bare minimum. As any project manager will tell you, there’s a whole lot more to the art and science of managing projects.

When things get crazy, you’ll need someone who can stay above the madness and keep your team on track. This blog post will explore five qualities that make for a great project manager.

1. Critical thinking

Broadly speaking, there are two types of employees we like to call “foot soldiers” and “masterminds.” Chances are, you’re familiar with both…

5 Qualities to Look for when Hiring a Project Manager

The foot soldiers do what they’re supposed to do, day in and day out, without asking questions or looking at the bigger picture. Some positions lend themselves to this kind of consistent, rote performance, so we don’t want to knock the foot soldiers. However, when it comes to hiring a project manager, you need a mastermind.

What does a mastermind look like? Masterminds don’t just blindly follow orders. If something doesn’t look right in your project plan, the mastermind will speak up (even if it means stepping on a few toes). Masterminds are always thinking, critically analyzing how the pieces of the complex puzzle we call project management fit together.

Example: A home warranty company is rolling out a new plan, and the company President keeps tweaking the pricing based on input from Account Executives. The Marketing department can’t print hardcopy brochures until pricing has been finalized, and waiting to the last minute to print and distribute the brochures will triple the cost. In this case, the Project Manager needs to speak up.

Does the launch date need to change? Does the president need to stop equivocating and make a decision? These are difficult conversations to have, but a good Project Manager will spot the problem early on and have that conversation no matter what.

2. Communication skills

About those difficult conversations… who you rather have approaching your company President to let them know it’s time to stop messing around—a blunt, in-your-face Project Manager who barks orders, or someone who can explain the urgency with tact and grace?

It takes some powerful communication skills to speak to truth to power. Even if the President is a no-nonsense leader who doesn’t get easily offended, your Project Manager needs to make a clear, concise case for whatever they propose. That requires a skillful combination of tact and direct communication.

3. Calmness and flexibility under pressure

The modern business world moves fast, and things can get crazy. Between the competing proprieties of different departments, fickle decision-makers, and changing market conditions, project plans take constant twists and turns.

When hiring a Project Manager, ask for examples of what they’ve done in high-pressure situations. Get a sense of their ability to remain calm, yet focused, when things get difficult. Ask about times they’ve had to switch priorities, and see what kind of creative solutions they had for keeping everyone on track and keeping the entire team engaged.

5 Qualities to Look for when Hiring a Project Manager

4. Fearlessness

We touched on this earlier, but a Project Manager must be willing to have difficult conversations—and not just with executives! They must be able to confront their peers as well.

Sometimes it’s easier for project managers to speak up when confronting higher-ups since good managers and executives understand that this is part of the job, but a good Project Manager doesn’t shy away from telling the Designer one cubicle over that they need to turn in a draft or update their project status.

Sure, they run the risk of becoming unpopular (especially among the slackers), but that’s part of the job! For a good Project Manager, the opinions of a slacker are like water off a duck’s back.

5 Qualities to Look for when Hiring a Project Manager

5. Software know-how

Gone are the days of managing projects on Excel spreadsheets. Technology is inseparable from project management, and you need a Project Manager who can use whatever software you throw their way.

Obviously, they don’t have to be a tech genius… but if they’re afraid to dive into a system and get to know all its features intimately, they’re probably going to fall short.

Speaking of project management software…

Have you tried out MRMcentral? Our project management platform was designed specifically for marketing teams, making planning, approvals, and execution as simple and straightforward as possible.

Schedule a free demo today!