Effective communication is fundamental to the success of good construction management. This need for good communication is particularly critical when managing construction projects and teams. Ensuring the successful working of these diverse teams that may come together for an individual project is often determined more by the quality of the communication than by experience on the job.
Your ability to effectively relate, communicate, and motivate others is crucial to your personal and professional relationships. Add to this mix the wide range of roles of those involved in the construction process, from clients, planners, designers, architects, surveyors, engineers, contractors, suppliers, and more. In addition, consider the enormous levels of information transmitted and the pressure of project timescales and deadlines. Is it any wonder that communication breakdowns or misunderstandings arise, leading to extra delays, costs, and potential penalties?
You can probably recall episodes when you received poor communication and how things went. Or another when everyone seemed to be totally on the same page achieving the agreed objectives and excellent outcomes successfully together.
So, what do we mean by communication? Communication is more than conveying information or having access to the same software programs and modelling. Communication is determined by how well you interact with other people.
You may notice that the communication seems to flow with some people, and you effortlessly understand one another. When this happens, it is as if everything is more straightforward, effortless, and uncomplicated.
Unfortunately, with many people, communication requires much more effort and does not flow as easily. As a result, the outcomes are not what you want or intend. In the process, you may demotivate or anger a vital colleague or a key member or professional on the project team. You can become frustrated and tired as it takes even more energy and effort, and results are nowhere near what you had hoped.
The steps to improving communication
Help is at hand in a practical, 4-step process that will improve the effectiveness of your communication. This approach will help you build and sustain more successful relationships and outcomes in your interactions with other people.
One of the powerful tools available to professionals working within construction is using the Extended DISC approach. Based on years of working with leaders, individuals, and teams in the construction sector, those who undertake the Extended DISC assessment and coaching learn to interact and communicate more successfully.
This 4-step approach to effective communication provides 1) a clear understanding of the leading communication styles and 2) helps us build self-awareness of our own style and how we show up to others (e.g., how others on the project team perceive you). In addition, 3) you also learn how to read others better, leading to an improved understanding of individuals and across teams. The final critical development is 4) understanding how to adjust your communication style to achieve your chosen outcomes.
Poor communication is not just about good or bad relationships. The risk of not getting communication right can be huge for the client, the company, the project, and your career. Overcoming ineffective communication will reduce costs to the business. Improving communication will help you avoid demotivating colleagues and team members. Improving communication will increase levels of motivation and performance, reduce frustration and some of the costs associated with delays.
To be the most effective, construction professionals need the best possible tools and the ability to use these tools to achieve the desired quality and outcome of the task at hand. Whilst we could hardly imagine approaching a project without the required tools and equipment, we may often experience that communication as a tool is not performing as it should. Therefore, it is in all our interests to sharpen, adapt, renew, or even replace our communication toolkit with one that is better fit for purpose.