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What to Look For In a Project Manager

While there are many variables that can impact a project, choosing the right project manager can make all the difference. The project manager is responsible for charting the course, pushing timelines, and ensuring everything gets done within budget.

Companies from various industries often outsource a project manager to help turn their vision into reality, but the vetting process can feel like a project in itself.


Here are some essential skills, traits, and expertise to look for in a project manager.

Testimonials and Reviews

Successful project managers will have glowing reviews and references for their work. As project managers are responsible for getting tangible results within a project, the individuals you research should have case studies and notable mentions.

Consider reaching out to companies and professionals within your network to get recommendations for project managers they’ve used in the past. Don’t hesitate to ask for references so that you can ask questions from the other side of the relationship.

Certifications and Education

Some would argue that anyone could become a project manager, since it’s often more about personality and skills than industry-specific education. However, there are ways to hone the skills that make a great project leader, namely through professional development and continuing education.

A certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt is the cream of the crop when it comes to certifications. While this certification is the pinnacle of project leadership education, it’s a scaled program. The Yellow Belt is an entry-level certification while the green-belt is mid-line. Anyone who follows this program will have training in statistical thinking, change management, and more.

Relevant Experience

There are many skilled project managers in the world. However, they may not be right for your project. While the certifications and experience are valuable insights into how someone works, it’s equally important to ensure they have the relevant experience you need.

In other words, if your business is looking to implement a new software system with custom features, you’d need a project manager with experience in new software and systems implementation. If your focus is on new product development and innovation in food service, you’d want a project manager with experience in that industry.

If you have an extremely nuanced and niched business, you may not find a project leader with the perfect, relevant experience. However, the closer you can get to that connection, the better.

Strong Communication Skills

Project management is all about communication. Therefore, it’s vital that the consultant you hire has strong communication skills. They should have a communication process that they follow and should be willing to share this information with you.

A project manager should also be an active listener with empathy and compassion. It’s vital that they’re able to share information in a way that people understand and be approachable enough to answer any questions or concerns.

Calm, Positive Demeanor

A project manager must be able to work well under pressure. With timelines, budget constraints, and various personalities to manage, overseeing a project is a stressful job. Businesses should aim to hire someone who can keep their composure and manage stress effectively.

It’s also important to find someone with a generally positive demeanor. Many great project managers don’t get hired back due to excess negativity. A positive attitude helps keep things moving forward and reassures team members that everything is going to be ok – an important aspect of change management.

Not Afraid to Ruffle Feathers

Finally, a project manager must be ready to ruffle some feathers at times. This job often necessitates chasing people down, and conveying the importance of a task. As a result, they often have to act as manager to someone they wouldn’t otherwise have authority over, creating potentially tense situations and interactions.

Take your time in vetting potential project managers. During the interview process, ask plenty of situational and experiential questions to get a better idea of how the individual works. Finding the right project manager is essential for success.

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