Efficient and accurate communication is vital in every professional workspace. However, in the construction industry, it can mean the difference between a successful project and a costly missed deadline. Why is communication so important in construction — and what can business owners do to improve communication in the workplace?
The Importance Of Communication
Choosing The Correct Medium
Keep It Professional
Utilize A Chain Of Command
Translate When Necessary
Have Face-To-Face Meetings Regularly
Keep The Door Open
1. The Importance Of Communication
On a construction site, communication is often the beating heart of the project. It fosters relationships between general contractors and subcontractors, keeps things moving smoothly and even helps to strengthen the bonds within teams.
Without constant communication between management and workers, the whole system starts to fall apart. Mistakes get made, projects get delayed and, eventually, deadlines start flying by. Companies can avoid these problems simply by fostering open and accurate communication throughout the team. How can construction company owners improve communication on their job sites?
2. Choosing The Correct Medium
Communication is easier today than it has ever been, simply because there are so many options. Place a phone call, send a text, write an email, schedule a video chat or meet up face-to-face. The possibilities are as varied as the individuals using them. Not every style of communication is suited to every situation, though. The key is choosing the proper medium to convey a certain type of information.
Brief correspondence or questions, for example, might be better suited to email or text because they don't require an immediate response or a detailed explanation. Questions that require an immediate answer or more in-depth dialogue work better in a phone call or in-person conversation. Ensure that everyone chooses the right medium for their correspondence.
3. Keep It Professional
Friendships and casual conversations are common on construction sites, but that sort of unprofessional behavior can make worksite communication more challenging. When it comes to work-related correspondence, keep everything professional. That means leave out any slang or jargon that might come up on the site, and keep things like emotions and foul language out of it.
This can help improve the company's image if one of the crew members ever needs to talk to a client. No one will think twice about a couple of friends talking about what they did the night before while they work, but it's not something that helps to foster professional communication.
4. Utilize A Chain Of Command
The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing. With that in mind, implement a communications chain of command if there isn't one already in place. This outlines who is responsible for communicating with whom, and reduces confusion and missed messages.
In many cases, the chain of command may already be outlined in existing contracts. If that's the case, enforce that part of the contract to the letter. Everyone needs to know who they're supposed to talk to and in what order, in case any problems or challenges arise.
5. Translate When Necessary
Multicultural societies are more common today than they've ever been, and that means it's entirely possible that not everyone on a team will speak English as a first language. That doesn't make these individuals any less skilled, however. It just means there will be a breakdown in communication that could result in problems if unaddressed.
Take steps to ensure that everyone on the team understands what is going on, how to complete their tasks and how to stay safe on the job site. This may mean hiring a translator for meetings or investing in bilingual safety sheets and information. It's the business owner's responsibility to ensure that everyone understands what's going on and what's expected. Language shouldn't be a barrier to this.
6. Have Face-To-Face Meetings Regularly
Email and text messages have revolutionized quick and easy communication, but they're no replacement for meeting face-to-face every once in a while. Schedule in-person meetings as often as necessary. Bring everyone together, assess what stage the project is on, assign tasks and open the door for communication and feedback.
Face-to-face meetings are the best option for any emotional or hot-button issues that might anger or frustrate people. Meeting in-person means they're not just relying on text to understand the situation. They also have things like facial expressions and body language to help them assess the situation.
7. Keep The Door Open
When it comes to communication on construction sites, the best thing that managers and supervisors can do is keep their doors open. Feedback needs to go both ways, and sometimes crew members will have a valuable idea that might have otherwise gone overlooked. Keep those doors open and work to foster better communication in every situation.
Holly Welles is a writer focusing on construction and real estate. Her work on safety and technology has been published in Construction Executive, Constructible and other online publications. Learn more about her work via her website, The Estate Update.