Solid communication is an essential element of any construction project. Crews comprised of many different workers, all with their own communication styles, must share information accurately in order to complete a successful project on time.
When communication fails, so does the project, and perhaps, even the company. According to a Project Management Institute (PMI) study, ineffective communication accounts for over $75 million of lost revenue on construction projects every year. If your company does not have a well-thought-out, effective communications strategy, you risk losing everything.
Top-tier organizations do everything they can to minimize the risk of failure, and your company should be no exception. To eliminate risk, you must improve construction communication by addressing soft skills, helpful technology, and the latest in communication trends and challenges. Here are ten tips to protect your profitability by communicating effectively.
1. Establish a Chain of Command
The first step to effective communication is establishing a communication “chain of command”. When everyone on a construction site knows where to get and share important information, you create an environment of efficiency and accountability, and you eliminate confusion that can cause problems.
The hierarchy for any project should be detailed in the initial contracts and include crew members, contractors and subcontractors, and project owners. Having a written agreement as to who is entitled to have information and when can solve communication issues before they start.
2. Establish Communication Protocols
According to Forbes magazine, establishing correct communication methods can help provide information tailored to the recipient, making it easier for them to use. For instance, it may be most effective to communicate with your crew with on-site signage, but communicating with the project owner may always need to be through email.
While it may seem like common sense, detailing how communications should be distributed can help everyone get the information they need in a way that helps them contribute to your project successfully.
3. Employ Technology To Facilitate Meetings
Strategic use of technology can help all shareholders stay in the loop on project progress. For instance, installing a site camera can allow site project leaders to more accurately communicate with other shareholders during meetings, especially when participants are not on the job site. Using technology in this way can vastly improve construction communication.
4. Encourage Listening
When we consider communication, we most often think of giving information. Receiving information is just as, if not more, important. Encourage project participants to be active listeners and to ask questions when necessary. Not interrupting, taking notes, and making eye contact are other techniques that can help ensure messages are not misunderstood.
5. Avoid Jargon in Construction Communication
Every trade has its own shorthand. When communicating on a construction site with other tradesmen, or with owners and other stakeholders, avoid jargon, and be careful to elaborate when necessary. While you may know what “BOQ” stands for or what “skirting” is, not everyone listening to you will. Taking a moment to spell out that you are referencing the Bill of Quantities or are installing material to cover the gap between the wall and the floor will eliminate confusion and make communication simpler.
6. Stay Professional
All stakeholders need to remember that major construction projects are big business. As such, a certain standard needs to be upheld. Foul language, overly emotional responses, and lengthy emails and texts are not appropriate. Stick to the facts and keep everything short and sweet to maintain a professional environment.
7. Keep All Stakeholders In the Loop
Crew members and job leaders are often the first to know what is happening and are the boots on the ground in response to emergencies. Keeping other stakeholders in the loop is crucial to ensuring effective communication and keeping your job on time.
An effective tool that can help off-site stakeholders stay abreast of project happenings is an onsite camera with live streaming capabilities that can be accessed remotely. By allowing your stakeholders to peek in on the project, zoom in on details that interest them, and collaborate with workers in real time you ensure everyone stays on the same page.
8. Plan for Bilingual Team Members
In the great melting pot of America, many people do not have English as their first language. Knowing that stakeholders on your project may prefer communications in another language demands that you plan for translation service in some way. Allowing a language barrier to threaten the success of your project is not good business.
Additionally, if you plan on having bilingual workers on your job site, be sure that instruction and signage regarding safety protocols and procedures are multilingual.
9. Keep Teams Connected During Temporary Shutdowns
Construction projects are subject to temporary shutdowns for any number of reasons. Establishing communication methods to keep the entire project team connected and informed during shutdowns can help projects ramp back up quickly when work is resumed.
Eliminate concerns about site safety by using on-site cameras to provide remote monitoring. Employing this technology can keep your mind at ease and ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises when crews arrive back to work.
10. Provide Communication Training
Most construction companies know that their employees require training on new equipment and techniques that will be used on projects. Providing ongoing training is a common task for many businesses.
Including communication skills in your training program is a sure way to improve your crew’s communication skill sets and will keep your team at the top of their game. Supporting good communication practices can also help your crews to have better relationships and lower risks and accidents. The Constructor also identifies improved communication skills within your teams as an effective way to increase productivity.
One of the best ways to guard against the risk of your construction projects failing is to bolster your communications practices. By following these ten tips you can improve team communications, share information more effectively with all relevant shareholders, and create a more productive work environment. Protect your profitability, and grow your business successfully, by prioritizing effective communications strategies for your team.