Whether you’re emailing with several managers on construction bidding websites or on free general contractor software, good communication on the construction job site or when you find new construction projects is paramount. It can prevent injuries and save time and money. Bad communication skills and data management cost the US construction industry over $177 billion annually according to a report from PlanGrid, and FMI Corp. Workers often spend countless hours looking for the information they need to do their jobs.
Clear communication often fails on the job site because:
- No one’s listening. We all are guilty of forming our responses in our heads before the other person is done talking. If you do this, you won’t hear all they have to say.
- We’re not speaking the same language – both figuratively and literally. Language can be a big barrier to workplace communication. This includes jargon and slang terms that not everyone may be familiar with.
- There are multiple ways to communicate on the job site. How do people know where to look for the info they need? Should they check their email? Call their supervisor? Or ask a question using the GC’s RFI tool? If workers don’t know where to look for information or who to ask, they’ll just (see next bullet).
- A ‘get er done’ mentality can lead workers to think there’s no time to get the right answer, they just need to do the work. This can lead to costly mistakes and rework.
Tips for good communication on the job site
1. Lay the groundwork for good communication
At the beginning of the job, let everyone know how communication will flow, the tools and technology you will use, and what format to expect effective workplace communication to come in. This way, everyone knows how to submit an RFI, who to call if they have an urgent question on site, raise construction challenges, and where to look for revised drawings and specifications. Make sure that subcontractors and suppliers who arrive on site later in the construction project get this information, as well.
The internal communication system may need to be revised or updated as the project progresses, but that’s okay. But don’t change the rules during the project without letting everyone know.
2. Avoid jargon
There are three languages in construction: field, office, and legal. They all have their own jargon and slang. When communicating, make sure you are using plain, simple language that everyone can understand. If you have workers on-site who do not speak the prominent language, get an interpreter to make sure they get the information in a language they understand.
3. Meet in person
There’s nothing better than communicating face-to-face to clear up misunderstandings. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible or the best method. So, instead, hold regular meetings where attendees can ask questions, provide updates, and collaborate on issues. Stress the importance of making sure everyone is on the same page before the meeting breaks up.
If a misunderstanding occurs between meetings, discuss it in person or over the phone. Then, follow up the conversation with correspondence that confirms what the conversation was about. If you just rely on emails or text messages, your messages may be missed.
4. Confirm understanding
During a discussion, all parties must ask questions to confirm that they understand what the others are saying. If possible, before the discussion ends, ask each person to summarize the result of the discussion, so everyone knows that they were heard correctly.
5. Focus on facts
Be professional when discussing topics at work. There’s no reason for name-calling or other negative talk. Focus on the facts as they present themselves and work as a team to resolve the issue. If necessary, find the documents or correspondence needed to clarify differences of opinion.
These tips don’t only apply on a construction site but also when searching for construction jobs. You can speed up the process by signing up with PlanHub.