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Tips for Building a Strong Team as a Utility Project Manager

Utility project managers have a very important role in project success.

For every project plan, you must choose the project team that can best ensure project success.

How can you choose the best team to work on your utility projects?

Keep reading to find out helpful tips for selecting the best people for team collaboration.

Challenges of Team Development

Creating a team as a utility project manager may sound simple, but crafting a successful project team is no easy feat. There are many challenges to project success that you must assess when creating your project team.

Here are some of the top barriers to project team development to be aware of:

Conflicting Perspectives

Not everyone on the team always has the same idea about how to tackle the project or the various challenges it brings. Having multiple people with different outlooks and priorities can be a major obstacle to your project team.

Role Conflicts

When team members have overlapping skills and expertise, there can be conflict over who should do what. Clearly defining roles is the best way to avoid this conflict and keep the project on track.

Unclear Project Objectives

The less clear the objectives are, the harder it is to build the right team for the job. That’s why you must always be aware of the project objectives and outcomes as the leader. This is vital for crafting the right team and communicating responsibilities effectively. Project management software can help you keep track of objectives with helpful status reports.

Communication Issues

Communication is key for projects in all industries, but especially in the utility industry. A lack of communication could lead to a dangerous outcome, or extended power outages. Team collaboration is vital, and proper communication fosters this.

Assess Project Requirements

The first step to choosing a team for project success is to assess the project requirements. What is the overall goal of the utility project? Which steps are involved in the project?

Proper planning up front will help you avoid extra costs during your project, including unnecessary labor costs.

When examining the project requirements, evaluate the various tasks involved and which skill sets are necessary for task completion.

By assessing the project requirements in detail up front, you’ll be able to get a better idea of which roles you need.

Evaluate the Necessary Roles

Based on the project outcomes and the breakdown of the various steps, you must then determine which roles you need to fill.

Depending on the project, you may need a mix of in-house and outsourced solutions. For example, you may already have a pole inspector on staff, but likely not the means for utility pole hauling.

Hiring vs Outsourcing

As you lay out the various roles, you’ll need to determine which you plan to hire or source from within and which you will outsource to other providers.

How do you know what to outsource?

Here are some examples of when to outsource a role:

  • It requires extensive equipment that you do not have.

  • You may not need the role for all projects.

  • The cost of hiring, training, equipment, etc is much higher than the cost of outsourcing.

Breakdown the Skill Set of Various Roles

Once you have an idea of the general workers you may need for your project team, parse out the skillsets they each bring.

For example, a utility pole inspector may have technical and mechanical skills, a relevant degree, etc. Are there other roles that have the same skills without offering anything unique?

Essentially, take a closer look at the roles you think you need. Evaluate the skills and knowledge they each bring to determine if you can reduce the total number of different people. Likewise, you may also realize that you need more of a certain role depending on your project size and specifications.

“Hire” Your Team

Only after you are clear on who you need to hire should you proceed with doing so. “Hiring” may be internal, evaluating your current team and who you will select for the project team.

In some cases, you may realize that you need to make a true hire for someone who is not currently in your company.

Hiring for a utility project can be stressful. Choosing the right team member is important for project success. Of course, making a hire is not cheap, so you want to make sure it’s efficient.

Here are some tips:

  • Create a job posting on your website as well as popular third-party job sites (like Indeed).

  • Make your job posting comprehensive but easily scannable.

  • Be clear about requirements.

  • Ensure that the application process helps reduce wasted time. For example, require proof of training or skills in some form.

  • Follow up with applicants quickly, even if it is to say you will touch base in X days.

  • Look for the right combination of “hard skills” (utility background) and “soft skills” (like team collaboration) to ensure a good fit.

What to Look for in Utility Team Members

What exactly should you look for in a team member for your utility project? The specific skills you need will depend on the role and the project. That being said, here are some general ideas that may be helpful:

  • Specific experience: Look for a candidate that not only has general experience but who has specific experience with similar projects or roles. This will reduce the amount of time and effort you must spend on training. Those with similar experiences will have an easier time transitioning and making an immediate impact on your team.

  • Technical knowledge: In the utility industry, proper technical and mechanical knowledge is vital. Regardless of the role, you need someone who understands the basics and has had the proper training.

  • Education/ certification: Not all utility roles require a bachelor’s degree, however, assess the educational background of the applicant. The right team member will have a relevant degree and/or be certified in all necessary skills.

  • Commitment to safety: Safety is not negotiable in the utility industry. Project managers need team members that are dedicated to safety, following all safety procedures, and making wise decisions.

  • Team collaboration: Working conditions during utility projects can get stressful. You can’t control the weather, and there’s always a chance that some things don’t go as planned. That’s why it’s so important to build a team that has each other’s backs and does what it takes to collaborate effectively. Assess communication skills, ability to handle stress, problem-solving, and other teamwork skills.

Hire Blackwood Resources for New Utility Pole Hauling

One of the top roles to outsource while building your project team is pole hauling. To haul poles yourself, you’d need an experienced driver, specialized trucks, unloading equipment, and a rigger. You can skip all of this by hiring Blackwood Resources for your utility pole hauling needs.

Our dedicated team has already hauled 100,000 tons of utility materials, and we are ready to help with your next hauling project. Whether you need help hauling wood poles, steel poles, concrete poles, or utility transformers, you can count on us. We are 100% committed to safety, with our entire team up-to-date with proper safety training.

The best part? We also unload the poles we bring. There’s no need to hire a rigger or rent any other equipment with our self-unloading utility hauling services.

Learn more about our utility pole hauling services and how we can help with your next project today! Contact us here.



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