Do You Have a Construction Manager's Personality?

Is charisma really all you need?

Good construction management
Working well with others is only the first step. Maskot/Getty Images

If you want to avoid being a square peg in a round hole, it may help to know what personality traits are typically found in construction managers. Try the following list and count up the ones you think you already have nailed. We’ll see you on the other side!

1. An Affinity for Construction

It sounds obvious, but a strong interest in how buildings are designed, constructed, and maintained is a key aspect of being a good construction manager.

If you don’t have this, it will be difficult to compensate with any other aptitudes. But if you like construction, keep reading.

2. Results-Oriented

Buildings start as ideas and architects’ plans, progress through different stages, and finally become finished products. It’s the results that count. A construction manager should be able to conceptualize what needs to be done and mentally ‘fill in the blanks’ to move towards completion.

3. Business Awareness

Very few buildings are constructed without some kind of business conditions being applied. Profitability, productivity, timeliness, and customer return on investment are all important criteria for judging the quality of construction projects and therefore of construction management.

4. Acceptance of Responsibility

While you work to construction rules and customer conditions, you’ll also need to be comfortable with accepting ‘ownership’ or responsibility for different parts of projects.

That includes the construction work that is done by workers, and that you do not do yourself.

5. Decision-Taker

The buck often does stop at the construction manager’s desk or smartphone. Use a good process and the right information to take decisions, then see them through to make them work the best way possible.

Be prepared to live with your decisions and to back them up with sound reasons.

6. Conscientious in Your Work

Who wouldn’t be conscientious? Yet it often falls to a construction manager to tidy up loose ends, check on construction safety, and generally set an example that others in the team can see and follow. That may mean putting in extra time now and again, after the rest of the team has left for the day.

7. Assertive While Being Approachable

Getting on with people is important. Poor relationships can mean high turnover and team indifference.  At the same time, you need results! Being assertive is the happy medium between being aggressive and wishy-washy.

8. At Ease Directing the Activities of Others

Getting the best out of others and helping them feel good about it is both a science and an art. You’ll need to know when to coax your group into going the extra mile, and when to be polite but firm. Examples include meeting schedule deadlines, and the proper and safe use of construction machinery.

9. At Home With Construction Schedule Planning and Budgeting

You can’t escape this if you want to be an effective manager in construction. You’ll need one eye on your construction team, and one eye on formal timelines, building cost estimating and construction accounting.


10. As Happy On Site as In the Office

We haven’t yet reached the age of virtual construction management. Come sunshine or rain, you’ll need to be visible and accessible to your construction team on site, yet balance this with office meetings to report on progress, discuss issues and find solutions.

How Did You Do?

The perfect construction manager is made, not born. Training, mentoring from a competent colleague willing to help you, and on the job experience are all possibilities to help you to round out your construction manager’s personality.