In the Civil Engineering and the Construction Management industries, Project Managers are tasked with complex operations that require a multifaceted coordination effort by multiple people and excellent organization in order to succeed. In my experience, it seems that we don’t always have a choice as to who we get to have on these teams. Often, the who group is pre-determined and it is our job to just make magic happen. On occasion however, we are able to choose our own groups. Construction Superintendents know the Foreman they like to work with and in the engineering offices, we know the people who are trustworthy and dependable to come through when we need them most. When we have this option to choose, what makes a person a great choice for your team?
I recently stumbled across this TED talk by Regina Hartley that really made me think. In her talk, Regina brings up a great point about the background of a person, and what kind of indicator that is to their performance. Really, she is talking about the person who has a resume that shows multiple jobs and an education that may not be as prestigious as the next one in the pile, but we should stop and take a look. Sometimes, a person with a choppy background may be the best type of person to have on your
staff or team because they are used to having to fight for everything they have. On the flip side, the Harvard grad with a cum lade degree has probably been given better opportunities and luxuries to aid them in their endeavors. This candidate never had to fail, never had fight their way through life. The “scrapper” as she calls them in the video, operates with drive and determination, they are used to fighting and being put in positions where they have to make hard choices.
When I am building my team or looking for someone to join my group of engineers, I would much rather see the person who had to earn their position, rather than someone who seemed to be given it. I have always believed that companies should hire someone based on their personality and willingness to learn, rather than their experience alone. So next time you are putting together a team for your project, try to think of what makes each member important. Can you be sure that when it comes to a hard choice they will stand by it and support you? There is not golden answer and people with these types of background my not be the right person for you at all, but I would encourage you to take a second look before throwing that resume out, I know I have.