Becoming a Better Project Manager aims to provide new, aspiring PMs with a knowledge base and toolbox to be successful in design, facilities management firms.
By Andrea Bennett
On May 5, Zweig Group will present its inaugural Becoming a Better Project Manager seminar in Miami. Led by Howard Birnberg, the executive director of the Association for Project Managers and president of Birnberg & Associates, the one-day course is designed to equip new and aspiring project managers in architectural, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firms with a fundamental understanding and specific tools they can use to be successful.
A single day is not a lot of time to train people on skills that many professionals spend their entire careers developing. So, Birnberg says he has designed the program to focus on the essentials.
“The greatest challenge to new and aspiring project managers today is really developing a concrete understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing, how they are supposed to do it, and the tools and resources available to them to accomplish their job,” he says. “The intent of Becoming a Better Project Manager is really to give attendees background on what a project manager should be doing in a design or facilities management firm. The program has a really strong focus on foundations and what the job is about.”
What, exactly, is the job about?
“Throughout the program, I must say ‘communications’ about 1,000 times,” Birnberg says. “Communication is the most important part of project management.”
Communication, he says, is the underlying element to the other “soft skills” associated with project management and the basis for success in the tasks of the job, including delegation, time management, and facilitating meetings. Communication also includes the all-important skills of effective writing and public speaking. Even the tools that attendees are provided with are related to communication.
“In the program, I talk about a variety of tools, including project management manuals and change-order tools, which are not just for documentation and record-keeping, but also for communications because they let other people know what’s going on,” Birnberg says.
Attendees also receive a bibliography of resources they can access for additional information – the same bibliography that Birnberg includes in his forthcoming publication, Project Management for Designers and Facilities Managers, fourth edition.
The impetus for Becoming a Successful Project Manager is two-fold. First, the defacto means by which most technical professionals become project managers in A/E/P and environmental firms doesn’t lend itself to much training, and, secondly, most programs – even those offered at universities and other institutions – tend to focus on technical, rather than management, skills.
“People don’t become engineers, architects, or facilities managers to become project managers,” Birnberg says. “A lot of times, they’re in an organization and, if they have any kind of aptitude for management skills, all of a sudden they find themselves doing more project management and less of the technical jobs they started out doing.”
“There are a lot of resources and ways for people to learn project management skills,” he says. “Most end up learning on the job, or, if they’re fortunate, they’re mentored by someone more experienced in their organization. And then some people have an innate aptitude for the communication and people skills necessary to be successful project managers.”
“I commend Zweig Group for taking this series on,” Birnberg says. “A lot of programs out there really don’t focus on project management, and I think there’s a real need for it.”
Registration is still open for the May 5 Becoming a Better Project Manager seminar in Miami. Additional courses will be held on May 7 in Dallas, May 19 in Philadelphia, May 20 in Chicago, June 9 in Los Angeles, and June 16 in San Francisco. For more information, visit zweiggroup.net/sandbox/seminars/better_pm
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About Zweig Group
Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.