Contributing 4.2% to the GDP, the construction industry is one of the largest in the US. So it’s no surprise that good construction project management is necessary for success.
Communication is a crucial part of the construction project management process, as it helps ensure that all stakeholders are informed and on the same page with every step of the project. Some of the best ways to improve construction communication are to be an active listener, have a chain of command, and use a construction project workforce management tool like Bridgit.
Below we discuss some tips to improve construction communication as a project manager.
The importance of communication in construction project management
Communication is paramount in the construction industry, as it ensures timely and efficient project completion. Here are some reasons you need to have seamless communication in construction projects.
Prevents incorrect briefings or miscommunication
Even a single bit of miscommunication on a Construction site can lead to costly and time-consuming repairs or reworks that could have been avoided. Suppose there’s a disruption in the chain of command.
The project manager might be unable to reach the right person to get a question answered, leading to delays in decision-making. As a result, there will be a decrease in productivity and project efficiency.
By avoiding mistakes and delays in decision-making, communication can help save on construction costs.
Clear communication can prevent accidents and injuries on the construction site. Everyone should be aware of all protocols, guidelines, and safety measures for a safe working environment.
Prevents overspending and delayed work completion
Completing a construction project on time and within budget is a major challenge for project managers. Effective communication between the project manager and all stakeholders can prevent overspending and ensure the timely completion of tasks.
5 tips to improve communication as a construction project manager
As a construction project manager, your job is to make sure everyone knows what’s happening and what to do next. Here are five tips for creating a seamless communication flow throughout the project.
- Establish a chain of command
A chain of command simply means the order in which information will flow from the project manager to the team. Set up a clear chain of command so that communication flows smoothly without disruption or missing links.
Generally, the architect communicates with the consultants. Meanwhile, the general contractor communicates with the subcontractors and supplies. The superintendent is contacted by the general contractor.
While this is the general chain of command, some projects may have more stakeholders and steps. For example, your construction project may have a designer, engineer, or other third-party entity.
You have to decide who these stakeholders will report to or get instructions from. If you’re unsure about the right chain of command, check the contract documents and specifications.
- Choose a method for communication
Once you’ve established a chain of command, choose the method of communication. Some commonly used methods of communication are:
- Phone calls
- Video calls
- Face-to-face meetings
Choose the method that is most convenient for everyone involved. For example, if you have subcontractors located in different countries, video conferencing is an excellent way for everyone to communicate without having to be in the same room.
You can also designate different communication channels for different things. For example, change orders can be communicated through video conferencing or face-to-face meetings, while email could be the right channel for daily reports.
Besides, you can also use project collaboration software. Many of these tools come with the following features:
- Real-time notifications
- Project management tracking and scheduling
- Document sharing and collaboration tools
- Integrated messaging
When choosing a communication tool, think about the needs of your project and select a tool that is user-friendly for everyone.
- Set communication protocols
Communication protocols are the guidelines or standards everyone should follow when communicating. For example, you can set protocols for how often people should check their emails, when to respond to messages, and what type of language is appropriate.
Suppose the contractor has to tell the subcontractor about a change in the material delivery timeline. In that case, here are some protocols you should set:
- Which channel will the contractor use to communicate the news?
- When should the subcontractor receive the notification?
- What is the expected response time for the subcontractor?
- When should the contractor follow up with the subcontractor?
Setting communication protocols allows everyone to know what to expect when communicating with each other. It also prevents miscommunication and misunderstandings.
- Use active listening
Being a construction project manager, you must engage in active listening, paying attention to everything your team and other stakeholders are saying. Active listening means not just hearing what someone is saying but actively engaging in the conversation, asking questions, and responding to ideas.
Besides verbal cues, you should also take notes on nonverbal signs, such as body language and eye contact. Here are some other tips for practicing active listening:
- Do not interrupt the speaker or talk over them.
- Listen to them attentively and ask them to repeat if you miss a crucial piece of information.
- If there’s a conflict, allow them to express their opinions and feelings without judging or criticizing.
- Restate the person’s idea in your own words and ask for feedback to ensure you’ve understood it correctly.
- Summarize the conversation to show that you’ve been paying attention.
- Document all communication
Most project managers use project management software for task management. But you can also use them to document your conversations.
While your inbox will keep track of all emails, verbal communication and video meetings should also be documented. It allows you to go back and review important points of the conversation.
When there’s disruption-free and seamless communication in a construction project, the scope, cost, and timeline of the project can be better managed. You can improve communication by choosing a communication channel that works with everyone, establishing a chain of command, and using workforce management software.
It’s also important to document all communication and set protocols so everyone knows what is expected of them when they receive a particular command or give an instruction.