Just as a classical music performance relies on a good orchestra conductor, a successful construction project depends on a good Construction Manager. The construction site image of a harmonious group of workers drilling and sawing, laying bricks, and pouring concrete underscores the importance of a good Construction Manager. Why is it so hard to find and hire a good one? Because a Construction Manager has a rare blend of skills (Top 10 qualities of a productive construction manager). But like an orchestra conductor, a Construction Manager pulls together a wide range of talent to create something beautiful and functional.
Here are some ways a Construction Manager is like an orchestra conductor:
1. They bring together a team of specialists
An orchestra conductor auditions musicians and chooses the ones who will make beautiful music together. In the same way, a Construction Manager must bring together a team of architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors, and other specialists to complete a project. In both the project team and the orchestra, each member of the team has their own expertise, and it’s the leader’s job to ensure they’re all working together in harmony.
2. They do much of their work behind the scenes
A conductor has practice sessions with the soloists, as well as the woodwind, brass, string and percussion sections. Conductors also do research and study the score. While there are no practice sessions at the construction site, the Construction Manager works with the various trade groups separately to ensure that they are prepared and handles a myriad of details away from the site and after hours.
3. They coordinate complex processes
In an orchestra, each musician has their own sheet music to follow, but the conductor sets the tempo, cues the soloist to start playing at just the right moment, and keeps everyone in sync. Similarly, a Construction Manager sets the schedule and coordinates a wide range of complex processes, from managing a budget, ordering materials and scheduling deliveries to coordinating subcontractors and ensuring compliance with local regulations.
4. They have a keen eye for detail
Just like an orchestra conductor must pay close attention to the nuances of each musician’s performance, a Construction Manager must have a keen eye for detail to ensure everything is done correctly. They must be able to spot potential problems before they arise and make adjustments as needed to keep the project on track.
5. They’re excellent communicators
Not only does a conductor communicate their vision to the musicians as they begin rehearsals, but during the performance the eye and the baton of the conductor communicates constantly to the musicians. Likewise, a Construction Manager must be an excellent communicator to keep all stakeholders informed of progress, changes, and any issues that arise.
6. They’re natural problem solvers
What happens if a musician is sick or an instrument is damaged or lost before a performance? The conductor is the one who must quickly find a substitution or solution in order for the show to go on as scheduled. That is not much different from the Construction Manager who must deal with unexpected challenges that arise during the project. Subs not showing up, material deliveries that are wrong or delayed, inclement weather, quality and safety issues – all require that the Construction Manager be a natural problem solver.
We’re lucky to have the acclaimed conductor JoAnn Faletta leading the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. You’re not likely to see her at a construction site, but you can see how her job is like a Construction Manager’s. Both bring together a team of specialists, work behind the scenes, coordinate complex processes, pay attention to detail, communicate effectively, and solve problems on the fly.
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Nordstrom Williams brings harmony to architecture, construction, and engineering workplaces by matching talented Construction Project Managers and other professionals to the companies where they will thrive. Contact us today.