Does Your PM Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 1: Professionalism and Ethics

February 9th, 2015 by Blake Jehle Leave a reply »

IMG_2874In the construction industry, project managers are hired across the country to assist Owners with their projects.  They are hired to help you, the Owners, with team communication, managing budgets, scheduling/coordinating vendors, providing recommendations, having the difficult conversations, facilitating meetings, managing important notes and files…………….to the contractor and architect they are the Owner and should perform in the best interests of their Owner’s firm.

However, have you ever questioned whether or not your project manager is performing these duties and actually looking out for you, the Owner’s best interests?  Perhaps the following list of concerns might bring you to question whether or not your project manager is the best fit for your project.  In this series, I will point out some potential indicators that you should consider in evaluating your current and potential project manager.

PART 1 – Professionalism and Ethics

Does your project manager dress professionally and represent a positive image for your firm?  Are they dressed in business suits, or sports coats, or do they come to meetings in worn out golf shirts and faded jeans?  A professional project manager knows that they are an outward projection of their owner, and their Owner’s company, and should project this image to the project team………professional dress and actions should be maintained at all times.

The outward appearance of a project manager can also indicate possible biases or allegiances.  Is your project manager wearing shirts and hats with logos from contractors, consultants or vendors?  Although this might sound irrelevant, it could reveal hidden loyalties.  What does this mean about their ethics and objectivity? Owners should insist on professionalism from their project managers.

There are many real estate and property management firms that also provide project management services to clients.  These services can be top notch, but does this have the potential to cause interference with your company’s best interests?  This arrangement has the potential for the PM to work on behalf of their company (the landlord) and not in your best interests (the tenant/Owner).  Have you looked at independent PM firms that might be in the best interest of your project’s success?   Owners should expect that the project manager is acting as a steward of their interests!

Mike Stagner leads a project meeting

Mike Stagner leads a project meeting

Frequently, your project manager will need to conduct interviews to hire architects, GCs, and other consultants.  How are these firms presented to you?  Does your PM provide you with a list of reputable firms and then help you grade them based on the interview and their proposals, or are they only endorsing architects or contractors “that are approved by their company’s senior management”?  Or, do they try to influence your decision for one specific firm without a clear grading matrix?  Owners should expect a fair, honest and transparent process to “on board” designers, consultants & contractors to the project. 

Does your project manager defend the contractor or consultants on a consistent basis?  Or do they openly push back against these groups to represent your interests?  This is a good indicator of where the project manager’s allegiances might lie.   Owners should expect that the project manager is free from conflicts of interest.

In some instances, some PM providers have hired contract (1099) employees to manage projects.  Since they are not an actual employee of the PM firm, are they representing the values and goals of that firm that you hired?  Will they perform under the codes of conduct and ethics of their contracted company?  What are the impacts to your project if this person leaves and then who will replace them?  Owners should insist on a project management firm with full time/long term employees that represent the culture and ethics of the project management firm.

As the Owner, you should demand the best out of your project manager.  You expect the same from your employees and staff, so it’s no different when hiring a project manager.  Never forget that it’s your money, your objectives and your investment and hopefully your PM will RESPECT that as well.  If you set these standards early, then your project will run smoother, your teams will work more cohesively, and you will have a project that will be delivered on time and within budget.

Guaranteed success for everyone involved.

Next Week – Part 2: Organizational Skills and Attitude !

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