A Harvard Business review article suggests that communication is an essential determinate for success. Organizations are more effective when different members of a team are collaborating and communicating. The role of communication in construction and it’s significance is especially true projects often require multiple workers performing tasks in conjunction with other members of their crew.
When construction workers are out of sync and on different pages, bad things can happen. A simple miscommunication or misunderstanding can lead to accidents that put workers at risk of serious injury. For this reason, it’s essential that construction workers are in constant communication with one another during work hours.
Why is Communication in Construction Important?
When working with heavy machinery, moving large objects, or maneuvering at extreme heights, the importance of communication with the people around you cannot be understated.
OSHA states on their site that one in five workers deaths in the United States come from the construction industry, making it the most dangerous of all private industries in the country. When the stakes, and the risks, are high, all workers need to be completely focused and engaged at the job at hand.
With that said, here are some of the main reasons why communication in construction is vital for worker safety and organizational success:
A construction business mostly operates under the environment of time scarcity. Often times, construction crews are working against the clock to complete projects, meet deadlines, and please their customers. There are often legal requirements that also play a part on how long construction crews have to work.
With an effective communication strategy, teams can work more effectively. Workers can also better assess what tasks still need to be complete when deadlines approach. Too many barriers to effective communication in construction can lead to late projects and unhappy clients.
Meeting Client Requirements
From the client to the architect to all the way down to labor, construction businesses receive countless opinions on even the tiniest aspects of the job. These opinions, regardless of how irrelevant they may seem, are important. In many cases failure to communicate them to the right people at the right time can have serious consequences.
Imagine finishing construction on a home only to realize that the windows are all the wrong size, or the doors are too small. Communication in the beginning stages of a project can save construction companies valuable time and money in the long run.
Meeting Client Expectations
Building projects don’t cater to managers or the construction workers working on them. The only thing that matters is what the client is asking for. Clients will set their expectations based on what was discussed prior to operations starting, and it is up to the construction workers to meet those expectations.
A structure can’t be simply erased to the ground if mistakes happen. Therefore, it is important to first clearly understand client requirements and make them aware of how their wishes can be translated on-ground. Similarly, since most clients are not technical people, it is important to communicate to them what may work and what not. All of this requires continuous back and forth communication.
Developing Effective Communication
Before taking on a building project, it is vital to understand whether your staff can communicate effectively with one another. If they can’t, you’ll undoubtedly run into problems down the road.
Effective communication in construction depends on numerous factors. For instance, the ability of the workers to understand the construction jargons, or there being the presence of general language barriers among the workers or workers with managerial staff. If there exist such communication barriers, it is crucial to eliminate them through capacity building measures. These include:
Training is the most common and effective way to better understand a topic or skill. Good training courses include modules that help the trainee in understanding the technical and linguistic requirements that they may face when on the job. It is, therefore, important that your construction workforce is appropriately trained before touching the field.
With that said, you can ensure your workers are well trained by vetting your crew thoroughly, making sure they are OSHA certified and experienced before even stepping foot onto your construction yard.
Providing Interactive Environment
With the worker unable to convey ground realities to the top management, mistakes are bound to happen. This is because there is almost always a difference between theoretical planning and its practical execution.
Once those practical details don’t match with the plan on board, however good it may be, mistakes happen. It is, therefore, vital to have two-way communication where workers too can express their concerns.
Additionally, it is imperative that there exists an environment where workers can communicate with each other easily. This allows the existence of knowledge sharing between the handlers of practical aspects of construction. Having a strict or restricted environment can become a hindrance in that valuable knowledge sharing. On-the-job training is one of the most effective training methods and should be encouraged.
Technology has brought in significant improvements in communication. It is about time that the construction industry starts incorporating these methods for successful completion of the projects.
Many successful businesses do employ technology for this purpose, including computers, wireless sets, and even cell phones. Additionally, a lot of construction-specific software have come in place that aid managers manage and instantly communicate with the upper and lower chains of the project.
Keeping Communication Simple
Communication is of no good if it isn’t comprehensible by the other person. The rule is that simpler the instructions, better the output. Whether written or oral, all modes of interaction must be clear and concise and free of jargons. Only use the jargon that the receiver is trained to understand, or at least simplify it for them.
Communication is vital in construction, but the question stands, what sort of communication? Even the slightest mistakes end up creating the most significant differences in the business of building things. In avoiding the consequences of miscommunication, it is necessary to make sure that everyone involved in the project understands things in the same way they are meant to be.
Managers in this regard need to build a relationship with their workers where the former empathizes and encourages, and the latter is encouraged to share. Having open communication channels supported by the advanced technology and clear message can aid the process significantly.