The construction industry as a whole is busy. For construction managers and general contractors, this means that subs are spread thin, backed up and facing labor shortages that can significantly stress and delay a construction project.
There are several strategies to combat these challenges. You can widen your subcontractor network to have more options or hire your own staff to self-perform aspects of a job. Both of these strategies have additional pitfalls to consider. We have found there is one no-fail solution to improving workflow between subs and team members to ensure a project stays on schedule and budget: solid communication.
Effective communication is vital to the successful completion of any construction project. Good communication can improve teamwork, subcontractor relationships and productivity, and lead to better project collaboration. Poor communication can result in misunderstandings, delays and issues down the road.
We have identified four tips that help improve communication through any construction project.
Establish a communication chain of command
When we kick off a project we make sure to identify a communication chain of command. The top priority is to not only keep all the phases and activities moving forward as planned but to communicate that progress to all the important stakeholders. Many times when communication breaks down it was because the information didn't get elevated up the chain and therefore it broke down. Making this clear at the onset if critical.
Choose the right communication method for the message
Not everyone communicates the same way. Some people prefer email, or text, phone calls or in-person meetings. Understanding these needs and shifting the communication approach can significantly help the flow of communication. At the end of the day, it is important to send out weekly reports to ensure everyone is copied into the activities and status. This way, if someone missed a correspondence they can check the report for updates.
Be an active listener
Being an active listener, asking the right questions to clarify needs is a practiced ability. This doesn't come naturally or easily to everyone. We have to push ourselves to ask questions even when we feel uncomfortable. These questions will get us the answers we need to keep work on the right track.
Be clear and concise to avoid confusion
\When communicating in construction you want to make every effort to have your message understood the first time you send it. This falls to your written and verbal communication skills. Avoid using jargon or terms that the people you are communicating with might not understand. Your message should be focused and to the point. Keep it short and simple as much as possible. If you are working on multiple projects with the same people, focus on only one project at a time to avoid confusion. Use easily searchable subject lines in emails so people can go back and find the information easily.