The Importance of Communication and Trust in Construction

construction-teamBuilding an effective team in construction poses special challenges that require effective management and communication skills. Establishing trust is essential to developing a good working relationship with team members.

Teams need clear leaders to ensure success. Some behaviors make a significant difference to effective leadership:

  • Stating a “big picture”
  • Engaging the right people
  • Building a sense of unity
  • Maintaining clear goals that are in keeping with the organization’s aims
  • Outlining an action plan
  • Designating roles and holding people accountable
  • Establishing communication guidelines that build confidence
  • Encouraging independent critical thinking within the team

Managers who take the time to make an organized plan must then share it with the team to start building the trust that allows construction teams to unite together and work towards their common goal.

Communication

While some people are natural speakers, anyone can learn good communication skills to ensure effective management. On construction project teams, there are diverse groups coming together with varied backgrounds. Communication guidelines reinforce group identity through a single directive that applies to all.

Establishing guidelines declares that communication is a vital aspect of team success and ensures that all members know how to do so productively, whether in person, by phone, email, social media or assorted written documents. It supports the importance of regular, direct communication among team members. When conflicts occur, a procedure for negotiating the different points of view already exists. Most importantly, a system exists for how to handle project information as well as how to manage member evaluations.

Great leaders describe a clear vision in straightforward language. Team leaders need to explain the message and ensure that the team understands and accepts it. When challenges arise, leaders articulate the difficulty so that everyone understands and agrees on the problem requiring a solution. Reminding team members of the group’s objectives and encouraging input helps others feel responsible for the group’s overall success. That’s how to build team unity and that depends on establishing trust.

Trust

Team members are more willing to follow leaders whom they trust. The Construction Industry Institute identifies some key areas where trust plays a significant role in the successful management and cost control of construction projects:

“Open discussions of alternative methods of performing the work, value engineering, constructability, contract administration, risk allocation, level at which disputes related to risk allocation are solved, communications, and dispute resolution.”

They also identify some areas where a lack of trust negatively affects construction projects:

“Project team efficiency, timing of decisions, project schedule, project performance and quality, timing of approvals, amount of rework, administrative costs, field supervision, and completeness of project scope.”*

Stephen M. R. Covey reveals that 49% of employees do not trust upper management in “The Business Case for Trust.” Building trust is key for effective leadership and that depends on good communication. Learning these skills is a part of great construction management.

At NEIT, the Master’s in Construction Management provides an education not only in construction theory, but also management practices and professional development that may help provide future construction managers with tools that can be used to oversee successful projects. Construction managers who communicate clearly and build team trust are the great leaders the construction industry needs.

* The Construction Industry Institute

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