While facilitating Partnering programs for project teams across the globe over the last 10 years, I have asked construction team members, “What is the key to great construction projects?” One of the most popular responses nearly everyone seems to agree with is, communication.
It’s true. Communication, or how we express our positions, interpretations and requests is the key to success on construction projects. This is not theory. It has been proven. A Harvard Business Review article about a study at MIT’s Human Dynamic’s Laboratory showed that communication was not only the number one predictor for success above all other variables—more than education, experience, etc.—but that certain modes of communication were more effective and led to higher degrees of success than others.
Therefore, we likely all agree on the importance of communication for building high-performing teams. But if we know that communication is so important, then why do we screw it up so often? Why do we make assumptions? Why do we act on half-baked information?
I want to know why. I want to understand why many of us seem to know what good communication looks like, but fail too often in the final execution. Over the next few months, we are going to attempt to uncover some of these mysteries by exploring the following questions in a series of blog posts:
- Why is communication is imperative?
- What are the different modes of communication on construction projects?
- What are some of the limitations of these methods and how can we avoid them?
- What can we do as team members to maximize the effectiveness of our communication?
If we are able to increase our effectiveness through the discovery of this information, the results will speak for themselves.
First, let’s define why effective communication is important on construction projects.
- Communication helps build and maintain relationships on construction projects. Relationships are the lifeblood of any business transaction. People make decisions based on relationships and trust. When we communicate openly, transparently and follow through on our commitments to our partners, it helps us build trust and form lasting relationships.
- Communication fosters idea sharing and innovation. We come from many different backgrounds and experiences on construction projects. At any time, you are looking at project teams with hundreds, if not thousands of years of combined project experience. If we are not applying this past expertise, it may not matter as much as looking for new ideas and innovations. If we are talking about the different ways to approach situations and challenges, it will foster creative ideas to solve the issues of today.
- Communication helps build confidence and strengthens teams. We have heard it before—the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Strong teams are the direct result of clear and effective communication. An effective team is proactively anticipating challenges and developing creative solutions by closely communicating with each other. When this works, they gain confidence in their abilities going forward, knowing they can replicate the same success as a communicative team.
- Communication improves management of the team. Effective managers can clearly articulate the vision and intent of the project. They lend ideas, potential solutions and help remove roadblocks faced by construction teams. When managers communicate effectively, team members recognize it and learn from it. Management is responsible for setting the tone for effective communication on projects, and in return, it drives results.
- Communication creates feedback loops. High-performing leaders let their staff know how they are preforming and what they can do to improve. When we can communicate the peaks and valleys of an employee’s performance in a way that is constructive and emphasizes growth, it builds the individual and the team.
- Communication delivers results. The more communicative, transparent and thus effective we are as a team, the better the results. Projects teams with high levels of communication are able to deliver projects on time or ahead of schedule, at or under budget and with exceptional safety records. These results do not happen per chance or by accident. They are the result of clear, concise and transparent communication.
Bottom line. Communication delivers the results that everyone is looking to achieve on construction projects. The more we talk and discuss issues and challenges transparently, the greater probability that we will work through them. Therefore, the sooner the challenges are addressed and discussed, the sooner they can be put behind us and we can move forward as a team.
Everyone wants to build relationships and deliver a successful construction project. Through effective communication, you can do just that. Please join us again next month for the second post in our series focused on achieving World Class results and teamwork through World Class communication.