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A survey in the US showed poor communication that results in expensive call backs costs the construction industry $177bn every year, and in the UK the Get It Right Initiative https://getitright.uk.com claims that “error is costing the construction industry between £10 – £25 billion per annum across the sector”. Communication is key – we all know this but busy schedules and time constraints can lead to misunderstandings that cost money. Here are some easy steps to implement to keep communication flowing on your site.
Make it a priority
Building sites can be busy, noisy and chaotic and taking time to communicate is simply not a priority. Most construction managers do not dedicate time and resources to communication and that ends up costing them in the long run.
Managers need to address minor annoyances with individual workers before they escalate into tensions which negatively affect morale and productivity. Be very specific about expectations. Employees must know exactly what time to be on site and what they need to be doing every day. Take the time to assign tasks, describing in detail the quality expected and which methods to use. Set realistic deadlines that encourage productivity but do not risk safety. Address issues with individuals rather than groups. For example, speak with the employee that is always late or is less productive rather than instituting rules for the whole crew.
Ensure effective communication by clarifying jargon or slang for new employees.
It’s all in the delivery
Be flexible in the way you talk to employees. Each employee is different and may need a different approach in order to effectively absorb information. Listen actively to your employees so they feel like they are heard and important. Avoid assigning blame and instead work on finding solutions. When delivering constructive criticism, be polite and respectful to avoid escalating hostility.
Watch your body language and avoid doing other tasks while communicating. For example, put your phone away and stop what you’re doing when communicating so your employee feels heard and so you can be sure that you have been heard and understood.
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