Q: What qualities or attributes should we look for when hiring a production manager/coordinator to manage six lead carpenters? —John Snapat, Fulford Home Remodeling, Swansee, Ill.

A: The production manager is one of the most difficult roles to fill. Many of the firms I’ve worked with over the years come to me after making the most common mistake: bringing someone in from the field.

While it is certainly important to have some hands-on experience to do the job well, that is, in fact, the least important attribute required. The most important is that your PM be able to think like a businessperson first and a builder second. The PM is your first line of “fiscal defense” and has a major impact on your company’s overall performance and profitability.

He or she must also be an excellent communicator. Ninety percent of the PM’s day is spent communicating with field staff, subcontractors, customers, and owners, so doing it well is critical.

Additionally, the PM should have demonstrated multiproject management experience, a high level of urgency, and be organized and versatile, i.e., able to adapt to changing conditions without major swings in demeanor.

It’s no coincidence that a good PM shares many of the qualities exhibited by a successful company owner, since besides the owner, this is one of the most critical positions in the organization.

Brian Roberts is the managing partner at HomeBase, a Boston-based consulting firm focused on recruiting, employee relations, and organizational development for leaders in residential construction and real estate. Contact Roberts at brian@homebasellc.com.

Send questions for Ask the Expert to senior editor Stacey Freed at sfreed@hanleywood.com.