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#1 Chris Cat

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 01:19 AM

I've been thrown into a new position as a Project Manager for utilities re-locations. I was previously a project engineering. I built a new team and I'm basically starting from scratch. Does anybody do project management. I kind want to keep close ties, because I have a feeling that a majority of my experience will become on the-job-training.

I'm just trying to building a little confidence in myself.

Throw me a message, may be we can learn from each other.

#2 Road Guy

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 01:43 AM

In think what makes a good PM is one who enjoys communicating, email is good for some things but phone calls are hard to beat. The Project Managers who work for me, the ones that are the good ones are the ones that put down the email and make a point to talk to there staff/team/ etc at least a couple times a week...

Of course having the knowledge of your industry helps and all the technical stuff.. But most likely you have that or else you wouldn't be in that position...

Contrast and good luck!
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#3 Chris Cat

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:00 AM

Yeah. I always thought that the biggest misconception about civil engineers was that they lack of an extroverted personality. This does put engineers at a disadvantage because, project managers without technical degrees start calling the shots. For example, most people on the board of metropolitian transportation authorities don't have engineer degrees.

If you think about it, the most successful engineers are those who see company politics and business as an important aspect of engineering.

#4 treyjay

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:50 PM

Yeah. I always thought that the biggest misconception about civil engineers was that they lack of an extroverted personality. This does put engineers at a disadvantage because, project managers without technical degrees start calling the shots. For example, most people on the board of metropolitian transportation authorities don't have engineer degrees.

If you think about it, the most successful engineers are those who see company politics and business as an important aspect of engineering.



One of the things you learn in project management is that there is not always an engineering solution to a problem. Many times you have to think "outside of the box." There are people who will be looking to you for leadership and those people will not be engineers. I have seen more than a couple of engineers (and architects) who were basically no help because they did not want to deal with issues/problems that did not fit into a nice, neat design "box." There will be a lot of problems requiring answers which are not engineering related.

Being successful at project management, after being successful in engineering, is a great way to shine. If you fail...well...and at least you can go back to engineering...then again, sometimes it's down the road kicking cans!

#5 knight1fox3

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:28 PM

treyjay makes some valid points. However, engineers are good at solving and dealing with problems. Which can give somewhat of an edge when going to the realm of project management. But, you won't necessarily be able to solve the problems that arise in PM with an equation or calculation which revisits the "thinking outside the box". For those engineers that can do that, I think it's a great skill set to have and makes for a well-rounded engineer. In addition and in my experience, will also make for a positive experience when dealing directly with customers or clients.

#6 Chris Cat

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:36 AM

Hey, I enjoy your input by both of you.

Where do you guys stand as far as hours a week. If you're paid a salary, is it disturbing to find yourself working 50-60 hours without proper compensations.

I make sure my staff gets the proper over-time pay. However, my well-being doesn't benefit. I'm straight salary.

#7 treyjay

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 03:36 PM

depends.....if you are responsible for construction, and you are field-located, and you want to be a success....plan on 12 hours per day ( 6 am to 6 pm) and some Saturdays (this could change to all Saturdays).

if your staff is hourly or non-exempt salaried.....don't work the OT unless the budget allows for it, you can get someone else to pay for it or there is a clear benefit to it (which you can rationalize to higher-ups).

Don't mess around with "comp time" for hourly employees....you will eventually get burned by the DOL when someone gets let go and files a compliant.

If your staff is exempt, salaried...no OT....just part of the job...most people climbing the corporate ladder understand this and will be there right along side you 12 hours per day.....just show some understanding when someone needs to leave early or come-in late.

There is a lot of peer pressure on the project site to put in long hours...don't feel bad about it...that's just part of the landscape. If you end up with a mutiny on your hands...well....that's when you "make your bones" as a pm.

as the job winds down (S-curve begins to flatten out)...relax the working hours and talk up vacation after the job ends.

the cycle then repeats.

#8 Peele1

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:17 PM

Overall, Project Management is as much about managing people, as it is about managing the project. Often, politics can play a large deciding factor for design and budget...

#9 Chris Cat

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:17 PM

Very insightfull response. I value them heavily.

#10 EnvEngineer

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 06:06 PM

My primary function is project management, I do all the budgeting and staff assignments, schedule subs and review work progress and update the whole bloody mess. As has been said here "if there is a problem, it is a people problem" you can easily fix physical problems but the people issues are where the real work is.

One thing that I have been working on over the last couple of years is the management and worker perception of what I do. Both do not understand, could not understand and will not put the effort to understand project management. It is real scary to them. I make up alot of reports and figures just to keep them in the loop, it really helps if they are not directly involved in your projects.

I agree with the OT and salery issues, life in the field is hard and not appreciated. Keeping management involved will help get a bonus and pay raise. Be careful on the flextime, in the office they would like to think that you were not really working the whole 12 hours in the field.

Edited by EnvEngineer, 09 February 2012 - 06:07 PM.


#11 Chris Cat

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:29 AM

Interesting...

In my team, there isn't a Senior Civil Engineer. Most of the time, I have to act like I know what I'm doing.

I feel like I have to juggle so many roles. How do you continue your day without bring stress home. Do you guys just have stuff roll of your shoulder?

Is it bad to feel like you are constantly under the gun?

#12 knight1fox3

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 02:26 PM

I feel like I have to juggle so many roles. How do you continue your day without bring stress home. Do you guys just have stuff roll of your shoulder?

At the end of the day you have to look at what your priorities are. Work is just work and it isn't worth getting yourself all worked up to the point where it's affecting your home life. Happened to my wife (environmental engineer) and I could tell when she came home she was stressed and unhappy. Didn't help matters that she was bringing work home with her. She stuck it out for 2 years trying to get some things changed but there just was no give at her company. She ended up finding another job and is MUCH happier and really enjoys the work. I"m not suggesting you should switch jobs, but perhaps when you leave for the day, leave your troubles and stress at work. They will be waiting for you when you get back the next day.

Is it bad to feel like you are constantly under the gun?

Yes. That is what engineering is all about. Results results results! My boss often comments that he should've been a coffee barista. Way less stressful, ha ha.

#13 treyjay

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 06:06 PM

you need to be able to thrive on the stress, because that is what it will be. no one is going to change that enviroment because you might have a problem with it. you will need to have some interests that will let you relax.

if you already know enough about yourself to know that you may have a problem with stress, you might want to reconsider your position....I have seen stress take people down.
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#14 sac_engineer

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:26 PM

you need to be able to thrive on the stress, because that is what it will be. no one is going to change that enviroment because you might have a problem with it. you will need to have some interests that will let you relax.

if you already know enough about yourself to know that you may have a problem with stress, you might want to reconsider your position....I have seen stress take people down.


I wouldn't necessarily say that someone would have to thrive on stress, but rather know how to fully manage it. We all react differently to stressful situations. You will feel stressed at times, but you can't appear stressed because that will diminish your command as being a project manager. Good PMs usually have a quiet determination in their style while creating a positive environment with those who are contributing to the project. However, you can't fake a positive and encouraging environment.

#15 Chris Cat

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:20 AM

Would you guys ever hire your friends to work under you? I have a best friend who's been out of civil engineering for 3 years. I think we remained best friends because we never had to work together. There's a possibility I might expect too much out of him, and that in-turn makes it uncomfortable. Besides, we've always been equal, but unfortunate events due to the economy leaves him desperate for a job.

Should I just hire the best applicant, and put him on a even-play level?

#16 sac_engineer

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 05:20 PM

No, keep your professional and personal lives seperate. If hiring your friend means that you'll be directly supervising him, then you'll be putting your friendship at risk. There will be times, as a manager, that you have to assert yourself to get the task done on time, while also being aware that those under you will often not always think fondly of you when a deadline has to get done.

It's better to hire someone new so that there's a pure professional relationship in the workplace. Friendships develop among co-workers but I've never seen a situation a person's boss is also their best friend.

#17 YMZ PE

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 07:24 PM

No, keep your professional and personal lives seperate...Friendships develop among co-workers but I've never seen a situation a person's boss is also their best friend.


I second that. Also, if the other people working under you don't get along with your friend, you might be torn between being loyal to your friend and trying to address the concerns of your staff. Regardless of how well you manage the situation, people will question your integrity.

I dated and eventually married a supervisor. I hope we never work together again because of how uncomfortable that was. I never tried to take advantage of that situation when we worked at the same company, but understandably people had their suspicions. If you want to help your friend, the best thing would be to recommend him to another manager who's hiring.




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