Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts talent shortages in the project management profession can risk billions of dollars for companies over the next ten years. It’s safe to say, Identifying the right project management consultant to carry a project from idea to completion is critical for all businesses.
Fortunately, experienced IT talent managers have the specialized knowledge to help clients find the best consultant project managers (PMs), pairing hard and soft skills with the project team and hiring manager’s requirements in a short period.
In this article, seven experienced talent managers answer the three questions you must consider when searching for the right IT project management consultant for your team. We’ll show you how we identify the cream of the crop in a sea of project managers.
What are the Qualities of ‘the Right Project Management Consultant’ for my Team?
Choosing the right project management consultant with the appropriate skillset who won’t negatively affect the team’s dynamic (i.e., the psychological factors that influence the team’s behavior and performance) is a primary concern for a hiring manager. After all, the goal is to find someone who can achieve strategic business objectives.
But finding talent is easier said than done these days. Search for “project manager” on LinkedIn; for example, you should see a list of around 31,900,000 people. You read that right. Often, a talent management agency is better equipped to identify PMs with the right expertise and experience; they can help a company find the right consultant for the right project at the right time.
A servant leader with proven soft skills
The most desirable project management consultants practice servant leadership. A servant leader is a buzzword today (and for a good reason), used during the interview process to identify PMs who prioritize the team’s health and well-being to achieve success.
In the technical project environment, the servant leader plays to an individual’s strengths, not weaknesses. Setting the team up for success (without the traditional control and command structure) is more important than being a conventional boss.
The importance of identifying a servant leader who is also a project management consultant (in that order) can’t be understated. A person can learn servant leadership; however, some people inherently possess soft skills, values, and morals inextricably linked to being a more effective servant leader. If you’re searching for this person and it feels like finding a needle in a haystack, focus on the soft skills that make a good leader in a people-first environment.
Look for the right soft skills
Knowing the indicators (demonstrable soft skills) IT talent managers look for in a good leader can help you with your search. What you want is someone proactive and forward-thinking in their approach to solving problems; a person with self-awareness — understands their team in detail; and most importantly, a PM who listens and shows empathy without excluding members of the project team.
Let’s face it; project managers spend most of their time in a collaborative environment. And the right soft skills shape how a person works in a group. Shouldn’t you look for signs of organization, communication, vision, and initiative if you want to find the best talent? Many of the consultants The Carrera Agency finds for client companies play a liaison role, so they must also possess the ability to interface with other managers and stakeholders across the organization.
How Can I Compare Project Management Consultants?
We must admit, finding the right project management consultant is time-consuming and requires extensive collaboration during the hiring process. Could this be the reason companies stress finding someone with the perfect balance of experience, certifications, and skills?
The right soft skills help a project manager interact effectively with team members and create trust and dependability. But what about a PM’s technical skills? A well-written resume and portfolio will demonstrate technical skills clear and concisely, showing impact with numbers and results; however, there’s more to it, especially for IT professionals with specific certifications and training for project methodologies.
When asked how they identify the right project management consultants with the right skills, IT talent Managers at The Carrera Agency revealed the factors they consider during their search for top talent. They begin by understanding the project scope, team composition, project milestones and deadlines, and company environment, connecting in-depth with the hiring manager. Then, they ask two crucial sets of questions to compare candidates:
- Does the consultant have experience with the right project methodologies (SDLC, Agile/Scrum, Kanban, etc.)? If so, how much? Does past success demonstrate expertise?
2. Does the consultant have domain knowledge? If so, are they experienced with the right technologies and platforms?
These questions go hand-in-hand with experiential interviewing, where the consultant is articulate and shares stories and evidence of their expertise. And talent professionals can better identify great project management consultants based on their demonstrated behavior and decisions.
What is the Most Difficult Part of Project Management for Consultants?
Project managers, especially those who consult, rely on persuasion, selling, and socializing to get the job done. On the other hand, permanent PMs typically have equal measures of accountability, responsibility, and authority. How a person responds to the most challenging part of their job reflects their potential for success, a key indicator for talent management professionals.
To find a great project management consultant, you must answer the question ‘what is the most difficult part of the job?’ Then, determine how the candidate will perform based on the evidence gathered from experiential interviews. This approach helped The Carrera Agency find top talent over the past twenty years, identifying those who’ve developed processes and critical communication skills to navigate potentially catastrophic situations to any project:
- Dealing with conflict between team members
- Poorly written or incomplete requirements/specifications
- Managing expectations of end-users (to borrow from Jim Morrison, dealing with the “we want the world and we want it NOW” mentality)
- Scope creep
- Adapting to the internal culture
- Effective and timely communication with executive stakeholders
The more empathy you have for the job candidate, the better questions you can ask, resulting in effective hiring — the right people at the right time. Understanding how a candidate approaches problem resolution early in the hiring process can help you find great project managers faster.
Finding a great project management consultant is time-consuming with no guarantee of results. With smart talent management practices and careful attention to the crucial details, you can identify the right person to deliver the project in your environment.
In many ways, a project manager should be able to manage any project. And finding the right person to compliment your team and culture requires knowledge of specific hard and soft skills and proven success with experiential interviewing. Are you prepared to ask the right questions, leading you to a great project management consultant?
Main image by Tim Gouw