Thinking Outside the Box, and Other Core Qualities for a Top Project Manager

A client said recently to Core4: sometimes to build the box you need to think outside the box. We couldn’t agree more. In our industry experience and technical expertise matter, but creativity, problem-solving and other “soft skills” are just as critical.

Whether we’re hiring an internal project manager or providing external consultancy services, at Core4 we look out for 4 core qualities in our team leaders.

Quality work from a quality team. (Source: Core4)

1. Exceptional customer service

Every day Core4 refreshes commercial sites and works our makeover magic for big names from Stockwell and Savills to Kmart and Kathmandu.

Since we work with first-class clients who put excellent customer service at a premium, we need project managers who aspire not just to match but exceed our clients’ standards. We may have 24/7 coverage, but it’s not about clocking on round-the-clock: it’s about 24-carat commitment.

Firstly, Core4 adds value in all the little ways. With our eagle eye for detail, we detect small problems and let customers know before they become potential dramas.

Secondly, we invest in systems that make communication easy and create efficiencies. As a result we look to recruit team members who are IT-savvy as well as knowledgeable about the industry.

Most of all, Core4 looks for project managers who go above and beyond to support our clients. Because of the varied nature of what we do, that often means coming up with innovative new ways of doing things. Which brings us to our second vital skill …

2. Thinking outside the box

Core4’s Projects division tackles anything and everything from office and retail fit-outs, to high rise and multi-unit refurbishments and additions.

In other words, if you want flexibility, we’re your go-to team.

Because we look after a range of diverse projects, Core4 values supervisors with a solutions-focused mindset. We know that any day on the job can mean a change of plans (or weather!), which leads to a change of tactics.

For example, what would you do if site access was suddenly limited by an unexpected traffic event?

Our managers need to be experts at proactively sourcing the best solution for any challenge coming out of left field. Lateral thinking and a creative attitude to problem‑solving are what set Core4 apart.

Another example we like to use is how our smart team leaders often find creative ways to multitask expensive pieces of equipment like scaffolding on a job. This in turn saves our partners time and money.

While “thinking outside the box” sounds a bit like jargon, in reality it makes the difference between a five-star and four-star experience for our clients.

Designers think outside the box. So do our project managers. (Source: Core4)

3. Reliable communication

Once in a while you’ll find a top operator who has clever ideas but can’t get them across to a client. While everyone claims to look for “good communication skills” in their project manager, what does this look like in practice?

At Core4, we have forged long‑term relationships with our customers through being reliable, trusted advisors. And this is because we use communication skills that are all about the client’s needs. We make the effort to:

  • Invest time up front so we understand what our clients need 
  • Check to see if we are making assumptions, in case we don’t have the full picture
  • Listen before we make suggestions, even if we’ve worked together previously
  • Recognise our clients are flat-out and confirm how they want us to communicate. For example, do they prefer face-to-face, phone, Skype, messenger app? 

Most important, we follow through on our initial communication with regular, timely contact. 

Returning calls, responding to messages, arriving on time to appointments. A project manager can make a lot of glitzy promises about instant turnaround times when they start a job or win a contract. 

But putting words into action is the cornerstone of good communication and the building block of long‑term trust. 

And speaking of putting promises into action …

4. Being responsible

You can probably tell that at Core4 we take pride in our reputation for reliability and following through on our word.

To put it another way, Core4 is responsible for steering big-budget projects, so we need to be the perfectly prepped foundation, not the slab someone forgot to waterproof properly. We don’t take shortcuts and we don’t make excuses.

For this reason, being able to take responsibility for a decision or outcome is one of the main qualities we prize in our management team.

As US author and speaker Bob Proctor says, “Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.”

Our view is that above all, a top project manager welcomes being accountable to their client, company and team for the choices they make. In other words, they know actions are the only language that really speaks to their customers.

Summing up, at Core4, our people are the driving force behind our success. So when it comes to leadership positions in our company, Core4 has exacting standards because that’s what our clients expect.

We’re always looking for talented team members who fit the Core4 values, so contact us to discuss your career, or fill out an employment application form here.

Based in Brisbane, Core4 manages commercial projects for companies and body corporates across Australia and NZ. Our industry partners include Target, Kmart and JB HiFi. Project Management is one of Core4’s four main services along with Retail Shopfitting, Facilities Management and Commercial Property Maintenance.  Contact your trusted advisors Core4 for a conversation about all your property needs.

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