Organizations embarking on a path of adopting project management have to think about the type of role that the project manager will play. The decision is often not a clear cut one where things such as organizational structure, processes, and culture have to be taken into consideration. This is especially complex in firms that have never had someone fulfill this role in the past such as SMBs.

One intersection point to this decision is actually figuring out who will be in this role. Organizations have to weigh options of hiring new personnel versus asking someone from within to take on this role. In several instances the organization does not have the luxury of bringing in new resources either due to budgetary constraints or resource availability. As such the leaders are left in the position of determining who needs to jump into the role.

Assuming this is the scenario that leaders are faced with the next logical question is how do we know if someone who has never been in the PM job before can be successful in the position?

Beyond industry experience and organizational knowledge there are factors that can help those leaders identify potential personnel who may present a good fit for the job. Such characteristics include:

– Being Proactive. An individual who has demonstrated that they can constantly stay ahead of that fire-fighting curve. This person seems to maintain their cool in the face of possible crisis because they are simply always prepared.
– Go-To Leader. A person who is a defacto leader because the team members always seek their advice or counsel. This may be due to special knowledge of the organization or processes.
– Dislike for Silos. An employee who spends a lot of time working with other departments. This is typically someone nit afraid of silos and is not worried about protecting their turf.
– Mission-Orientation. A person who is task driven as opposed to process driven. That is not to say this person does not understand process but rather they like to operate with a set of objectives intended to achieve a desired goal.
– Dissatisfaction with the status quo. An individual who knows that the company can do things better or differently.
– Well-Balanced. Someone who can balance their idealism with pragmatism to get the job done.
– Curiosity. An individual who is not afraid of asking the hard questions.

All of the above behavior traits are important but have to be complimented with strong communication and organization skills. To be clear though there has to be an expectation that individuals who enter the profession as the accidental project manager requires a specific training plan to ensure effective indoctrination into the practice.