Good communication on the job site can improve the project budget, schedule, and working relationships between contractors and subcontractors. However, it doesn’t always seem possible. While there are technological advances that improve communication, like phones and email, that’s not always where the problems lie. Take a look at why communication fails and how you can improve and encourage good communication on the job site.
Why Communication Fails?
There are many different reasons why communication breaks down on the job site. Sometimes it is interpersonal conflicts, or a lack of trust, or just general miscommunication. However, these small issues and miscommunications can impact the project’s health and everyone’s bottom line.
Lots of Talking, But No Listening
Communication only works when both sides can talk and listen. However, it’s not uncommon for people to spend more time in the conversation thinking about what they will say in response to something rather than listening to what the other person says. This isn’t investing in a conversation and only leads to poor communication. Active listening helps prevent interruption and other similar problems and increases respect among the participants.
Sometimes communication fails because the participants aren’t speaking the same language. Not just the same spoken or written language but having the same base for jargon and other keywords. If one entity uses a different word for a specific action then there will be a misunderstanding between them and everyone else. And when there is a misunderstanding between two groups, it can be the exact language used that causes issues.
Lack of Respect and Honest
A lack of respect and honesty can be a cause of a lot of misunderstanding, lack of listening, and poor communication. When people don’t feel respected they are more likely to stop listening to what the other person was saying.
The same goes for honesty. Without honest communication between the different parties, it is difficult to trust what the other person is saying and whether they’re looking out for their best or everyone’s best interest.
Tips for Good Communication on the Job Site
The best way to have good communication on the job site is to start the project with the right mentalities and skills. Good communication on the job site doesn’t have to be difficult and doesn’t require too much change in behavior.
One of the easiest ways to improve communication on the job site and foster good communication on the job site is through questions. Whenever something isn’t clear, a document or drawing doesn’t look right, or other issue arises, it is best to ask questions. Questions offer everyone the ability to get clarification on the project.
However, it’s important to always ask specific questions that get to the heart of the issue. When you don’t ask specific questions it leaves directions and documents open for further interpretation and isn’t effective.
Similar to asking questions, you should try to follow up any requests or answers to ensure that everything makes sense and everyone is on the same page. A follow-up email restating any changes or differences can be the difference between everyone being on the same page or everyone having misunderstandings. It gives people a chance to repeat back any information they got in a meeting, and people a chance to clarify.
Following up also acts as a way of documenting any interactions between different groups on the job site. If the general contractor makes changes to the scope of work, the email documents those changes and asks for confirmation. This creates a paper trail that benefits everyone involved.
Even if you do respect the person speaking, it is best to show that respect. Body language, active listening, and directness are ways to show respect for all those involved. If you are multitasking or not actively listening then the other person won’t feel like they have your respect and it can cause communication to fail on the site.
Actively listening by digesting what the other person is saying before responding helps communication between all parties and ensures that people are hearing what the other person is saying. Dismissive body language or multitasking can create a feeling of disrespect.
Technology is a gateway to good communication on the job site. Tablets, smartphones, and laptops are increasing in power. This makes it easier to access drawings, designs, rfis, and other documents in the field. It also empowers field workers to document what they see in the field and communicate their needs with the back office. Having a system in place to record all communication is crucial for subcontractors, and keeps the lines of communication from getting crossed.