If you’re like most of my clients, you’re running – or are a leader in – a business that’s growing fast.
You smashed it last year, and your revenue targets for this year are even more aggressive.
To hit them, there are several projects you’ve identified as being crucial for your business at this point in time. You need to get those done to give you a good chance to get where you want to go by the end of this year.
The projects could be product-based – such as introducing Apple Pay as a payment method for your customers.
They could involve researching external vendors, running a Request For Proposal and finally, making a decision based on the findings in a business case.
Or, the projects could include assessing what your teams do now in terms of governance and implementation, and devising a system that works for where you are as a business right now.
In addition to those revenue targets, there are also a number of regulations on the horizon you need to implement and comply with (GDPR, anyone?)
Which means that as well as running your commercial agenda, you need to projects to ensure that you meet your regulatory obligations too. And those are NOT negotiable!
Sounds like you have a lot on.
You’re also acutely aware that implementation isn’t one of your strengths! There’s too much riding on your plans to juggle alongside the one million and one other things you and your team have to do, and you’ve tried leaving it in the hands of someone inexperienced before.
That didn’t work out so well!
So you’ve decided to bring in the big guns. You’ve decided to hire an expert to manage these projects for you.
But, there seem to be so many Project Managers out there. Where should you start, and what should you look out for?
Here are 5 things to consider when hiring a Project Manager:
As someone who has worked in and around projects for more than a decade, the one thing I can guarantee you is this:
Things do NOT always go according to plan!
Deadlines for tasks are missed.
Vendors deliver late.
That stakeholder whose input you desperately need at that workshop? They won’t turn up.
And what’s worse, they won’t have the courtesy to tell you beforehand either!
That’s all part and parcel of managing projects.
What you want to know is HOW your Project Manager responds to unexpected change.
Is s/he calm or considered?
Or does s/he fly into panic mode when things don’t work out as planned?
Is their instinct to react in the heat of the moment, or do they give a considered and appropriate response?
In the course of a project, there will be times when conflicts arise.
Some stakeholders may disagree vehemently with each other.
Others may resent the fact that they have been assigned tasks to complete, and they now have these project responsibilities in addition to those of their day job.
Or, there could be a Senior Executive who isn’t very engaged. Which isn’t helpful, as his / her support would demonstrate to the teams that this project is important!
How would a potential Project Manager handle these scenarios?
Would s/he get to a point where they are loggerheads with most of the stakeholders and project team members?
Or, do they have the emotional intelligence to recognise the different personality types involved?
And crucially, understand how to motivate those different personalities and get them inspired to play their roles?
Ability to Influence
One of the peculiar characteristics about projects is that the Project Manager has to manage people who do not report directly to him / her.
It’s different being someone’s line manager: you can use both carrot and stick to incentivise performance.
However, when that’s not the case – and when some of these stakeholders are at the very top of the organisation! - you need a very different set of skills to get through to them.
So, does your Project Manager have the ability to influence others?
Can they get people to stop, listen and act, even if they don’t exercise the direct authority which a hierarchical reporting relationship bestows?
A Collaborative Approach
When you’re bringing someone into your organisation –particularly when it’s not on a permanent basis, as most of my client do with me – you want to make sure they strike the right balance with your teams.
So, they have to be strong enough to challenge the status quo. The “we’ve always done it this way” kind of thinking.
But, at the same time, you do not want the kind of disruption that has such a negative impact on your team dynamic, to the point where your key performers become insecure.
Familiarity with Your Industry
Having a Project Manager who has prior knowledge of your industry or sector is a plus.
However, I don’t consider this essential. In the majority of projects – and to guarantee their success – the Project Manager relies heavily on the subject matter experts. They need the support of you and your team for details around what needs to be delivered, how and when.
So, if the person you are considering isn’t familiar with your industry, don’t panic!
What you want to understand instead is, the kind of projects they have managed and delivered over the course of their career.
Also, are they a quick study?
Do they learn fast? Are they asking the right questions?
Someone who is quick on their feet will quickly overcome not having in-depth knowledge about your industry, and their experience in bringing themselves up to speed will mean you, your projects and your business do not suffer as a result.
If after reading this, you’re ready to hire a Project Manager to deliver a specific project (or two) within your organisation, click here (will insert hyperlink) to book a call with me.
Not convinced yet? Watch this video (will embed the About Me video here).