Here’s When It’s Time to Hire a Project Manager

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Sep 23, 2015
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

Are your projects constantly over budget? Do you miss deadlines and is your team lacking motivation? Often these are sure signs that you’re missing a vital person in your team: a project manager. Many businesses don’t think they need a project manager because they are still small and have a limited amount of projects or because they feel their money is better invested elsewhere. However, over time projects get bigger, more critical, and exceed the skills of developers, marketing staff, and the CEOs themselves. That is the moment you need to consider hiring a project manager. Once the decision is made, making sure that you choose the best fit for your business is often more difficult than anticipated.

Why Do You Need a Project Manager?

Your projects do not deliver as planned and your customers are dissatisfied, but you’re still unsure whether the root cause of these problems lies in the fact that you do not have a project manager? Ask yourself these five questions, and if you find at least one applies to your business, it is a sign that you need a project manager.

Do your projects lack a clear objective?

For projects to succeed, it is vital to have a clear objective which you can work toward from the very beginning. Having a goal helps keep the project team focused and motivated. A project manager creates a comprehensive project plan and decides on the steps needed to achieve the project goal. Taking these steps also greatly motivates the whole team to reach the overall objective.

Are you constantly experiencing the dreaded “scope creep?”

A result of not having a clear objective is that the project plan keeps changing, because the team doesn’t really know what they have to do, which causes an inefficient working environment. The reason why scope creeps are so dangerous is that even small changes can quickly add up and cause additional costs and delays. A good project manager has the necessary change management skills to control and contain changes to the project.

Do your projects keep missing deadlines?

Time management skills are one of the key aspects of project management. Not managing time efficiently can cause costly delays and missed deadlines, which can lead not to not just financial setbacks, but also dissatisfaction and distrust by your users or customers.

Are your projects constantly over budget?

Scope creeps and missed deadlines usually have a negative influence on your budget because they cause excess costs. A project manager makes sure that the three vital aspects of a project — cost, time, and scope — are always in balance.

Does your team communicate ineffectively?

If there are constant misunderstandings and conflicts in your team, it’s because they are not communicating effectively. The root of this problem is lacking a qualified project leader who deals with team conflicts, coordinates, and communicates the most important project information and requirements to everybody on the team.

How to Find the Best Candidate

What makes a great project manager?

A good project manager does not just have the necessary hard skills, but also soft skills. They are not only great at tracking metrics and balancing the magic triangle (cost, scope, and time), but also have great leadership and people skills. Here are some key traits and skills a good project manager needs to have:


  • Communicative and outgoing
  • Proactive
  • Enthusiastic and motivated
  • Positive
  • Stress resistant

Skills and knowledge:

  • PM Methodologies
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Communication

Now that you know what to look for in a project manager, here are tips on how to find the best candidate.

Set realistic goals

Identify the strategic goals of your business and how the new project manager fits into the big picture. Remember that the job of a project manager is to add value to your business and helps you achieve your set goals.

Make a plan

Decide on your expectations and requirements of your new project manager and create a job description that is as specific as possible. Avoid being flooded by irrelevant applications by not using generic phrases that apply to almost everyone and can be found in almost every job description. Make sure that the applicants know what tasks and projects they will have to do in the future and what skills and knowledge they need to be successful.

Consider options

Project managers with a certification can often demand a higher salary, but you should not let this discourage you from hiring one. Remember that PMs will free a lot of your time by taking on a chunk of your workload, and you can use this additional time for other important matters. A project manager also makes sure that your projects are completed successfully, which creates more value for your business. Sometimes you actually don’t have to look far to find a good project manager. Maybe there is already a person within your business who is a natural leader.

Ensure they fit your company’s culture

An applicant can have the most amazing credentials and experience, but if they don’t fit into your company’s culture, they can actually be a toxic addition to your team. A big part of project management consists of teamwork and collaboration. It’s always easier to work together if you share the same professional values and beliefs.

How to Get the Onboarding Right

Finding a great project manager is one thing; retaining them is another thing entirely. The first 90 to 120 days are crucial for a new hire. This is the period where they will decide whether they want to stay at a job or leave. This is why onboarding is becoming an increasingly important part of the hiring process. With the right onboarding process, you can make your new project manager feel welcome and included, and as a result they are more motivated and committed to their work and the company. This leads to a better job performance and higher productivity. In the end the project manager and the business can equally benefit from it.

A successful onboarding process should include these methods:


A mentoring program offers the new employee a direct contact person who does not just impart their knowledge and experience with them, but also introduces them at socializing events and helps navigate office politics.

Gradual familiarization

Some believe that a jump into the deep end is the best method to initiate a new employee, but that method can easily backfire. Start with assigning smaller projects and giving new project managers access to past project documents which they can review and learn from. A fresh look at old projects can also uncover aspects you have overlooked and can now learn from.


A project manager is the go-to person for everyone working on the project, which is why it is important that the team gets to know the new project manager. Only if they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses can employees build trust and mutual respect. Team-building activities can range from an informal after work drink or dinner to a weekend retreat.

Performance feedback

Feedback is extremely important and helpful for new hires as they can only improve if they know what they did well and where to notch up their performance. Constructive feedback focuses on work performance and behavior and not on a person’s personality.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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