Take a look around at your construction jobsite. Do you have workers standing around? Are they ignoring safety rules? Do you hear angry yelling? Those are red flag warnings of delays, accidents, and rework waiting to take a sledgehammer to your productivity and profits. What can you do? Stop the communication failures that are causing these issues.
When you compare projects based on quality of communication alone, the cost of communication failure stands out. According to the Project Management Institute, in projects with poor communication, only 37% are completed on time, and only 48% within budget. In projects with effective communication, those numbers grow to 71% on time and 76% in budget. Communication matters.
(You may be thinking, “I have 87 emails, 23 voice messages, and 154 texts that say all I do is communicate.” But that’s not what we mean. There’s communication, and there’s effective communication.)
How do communication failures happen? It’s not all about failing to send a text. Failures can happen for the most basic reasons:
- Workers miss or don’t understand instructions. Maybe the crew meeting was loud, and they couldn’t hear. Maybe it was rushed and they didn’t feel comfortable asking questions, so they didn’t. If they don’t understand the work orders, they probably won’t deliver the results you need.
- Information doesn’t flow. If supervisors or crew leaders don’t know about delays or issues, they can’t coordinate teams, which means lots of stand-around time. If they don’t get information they need when they need it, decision-making becomes a struggle. Mistakes and missed deadlines can be the result.
- There’s no follow-through. If you don’t respond to questions or issues, it won’t be long before they stop getting brought to your attention. Will they ignore things they shouldn’t? Or solve problems in the wrong way?
- Lots of texts, emails, and messages are overwhelming. If people get bombarded with messages, they can easily lose information they need. If too many of those messages don’t concern them, they tend to stop checking them, so they miss the information altogether.
These issues may seem small, but they can quickly add up to big problems. Crews unaware of issues can’t reschedule when you need them to, causing longer delays. Workers afraid to ask questions come up with their own solutions—and that can mean expensive rework. Lack of follow through discourages workers.
Procore’s article on communication failures on a construction jobsite details several of these failures and offers common-sense solutions, like:
- When you’re giving instructions, ask for feedback. Did the person understand what you said or asked them to do? Have them repeat it back to you to make sure. This is a foundational technique in good communication because it clears away misunderstandings immediately. Make sure you let them know that it’s OK to ask questions if they don’t understand yet. This one technique alone could save you a lot of time and money in rework.
- Automate some of your updates, like drawing revisions, change orders, work delays, schedule changes, and weather issues that will affect the job. These can be customized to the right people (depending on the message), so that no one gets overwhelmed with notifications that don’t matter for them.
- Simplify your communication. Even though emails, voicemails, and texting have helped speed up communication, they’ve also caused it to fragment. How many different ways do you get messages about one project? You don’t get clear, concise information that way. Worse, different groups on your project can silo information so that other groups don’t know what’s happening. The way to fix this is to have one spot where everyone can find information, see documents, and get updates as needed.
Many companies (maybe yours) have invested in mobile devices. Many construction workers have their own. But they’re still using emails and texts instead of using specialized apps or software made for construction. Construction technology that utilizes good data capture along with a centralized and customizable communication space is the answer. Effective communication will cut the rate of delays, rework and accidents, saving your productivity and profits.
Stop confusion, mistakes, delays and rework at your jobsite with IntelliSpeX. See how our communication, collaboration, and capture tool can help in this quick video.