Job Site communication Tips

When the job site feels chaotic and disorganized, you can probably pin the blame on this likely culprit––miscommunication. 

Failing with communication on a job site can ultimately lead to serious job site accidents, project rework, and employee problems. The construction industry has established processes for communication over the years, but the various groups involved on a construction site come and go at different times and often have different priorities.

Effective communication is critical for collaborative work. High levels of communication are needed to:

  • Achieve coordinated results
  • Manage activity
  • Motivate employees
  • Understand the needs of the workplace

As a contractor, if you are not meeting these goals, you need to determine where communication is breaking down and potentially endangering the project. These are some of the common communication mishaps found on job sites: 

Not Listening

Can you tell how many workers are actually listening during those daily field crew meetings? If you don’t immediately capture their attention, they disengage until it appears you are finished. Why might that be?

  • They are in a hurry to complete a task
  • They are confused but don’t want to ask questions
  • You don’t give them a chance to ask questions
  • They don’t feel able to speak up about job site issues
  • They just can’t hear over the job site noise
  • There is a personal conflict

Delayed Notifications or Follow-up

If you don’t tell workers about an issue before it happens, they can’t be proactive. If you say you will look into something and never follow up, workers may stop coming to you.

Communication requires a level of trust; if you state you will take action and fail to do so, you are breaking that trust. You will lose an important element of the line of communication within your group and on the job site, which could lead to unreported conditions or ad hoc solutions created outside of the process.

If you don’t tell the site supervisor about the delay in transport for the remaining steel panels, the supervisor can’t reschedule workers to come at another time or work on another area. Everyone ends up waiting around and wasting time.

If the crane operator says people are ignoring the “no-walk” signs and you say you will look into it, someone can get hurt if you don’t follow up on the issue quickly. The crane operator may then decide that it isn’t worth asking you to do anything else and report you to OSHA.

Technological Problems

While email, voicemail, and texting have simplified communications in some ways, these activities have caused communications to become fragmented in others. Private group communications also limit access to information and create silos of activity and information. One group has one mandate, and that puts another out of the loop. Soon collaboration falls apart and everyone works in silos, isolated from others.

To combat this, everyone should have real time access to documents where comments and revisions can be made and viewed by all. There must be one streamlined method of communication that is updated with project information in real time for all to see or these one-off methods of communications become more harmful than helpful to project success.

So, What Happens When Communication Fails?

Employees may misread management decisions or react differently than expected. Managers may not understand employee needs. Both result in lower performance and higher worker turnover. 

Some misunderstandings result in rework, which could range from simply replacing a few lights to breaking up an entire concrete slab and performing a new pour.

Other miscommunication can result in safety violations, accidents, injuries, or death. A worker at height did not learn how to use his harness correctly because he did not understand the trainer. Another misses the message about an active crane area. There are hundreds of ways to get hurt or damage equipment on a construction site if you do not hear the reasons for why you need to be careful.

Solving the Communication Problem

The first step in resolving communication problems is recognizing you have them in the first place. Ask for feedback about what you communicated, especially in face-to-face situations. Have the other person repeat back to you what you said to make sure the information was received correctly. Pay attention to the other person’s reactions and look for indications that they are listening. 

Automate your communications whenever possible to provide real time updates via text or voicemail. Utilize software with version control histories during drawing revisions, and logs of document access and changes. Other good areas for auto-notifications include:

  • Changes in or expectations of severe weather 
  • Delays in shipping and transport of expected materials
  • Scheduling changes due to the unavailability of a particular sub that day

Customize your notifications to go to the right people, depending on the message. Limit them to those who need to know. If workers receive too many notifications, they may start to ignore them. 

The best option for eliminating your communication gaps is to invest in a software platform with a dashboard feature to monitor the status of a variety of areas on a single screen. If needed, you can dig into any details and clarify instructions with the people involved. 

A construction job site is no place for misunderstandings––too much is at stake. Clear communication not only reduces rework and mitigates accidents, it can also significantly increase the efficiency of the construction process. 

Figure out your communication failures, learn from them, and devise a way to keep everyone in the loop on everything from changes in deliveries to how the weather will impact the day’s schedule. 

Better communication also builds better teams, and enhances worker retention and attitudes at the job site.

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

WITH MORE AND MORE INTERVIEWS BEING HELD BY A PANEL OF 3 OR 4 PEOPLE, HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR ALL THE QUESTIONS LOBBED AT YOU? HINT: PREPARE

Heading into any job interview can be stressful, but for some candidates, heading into a panel interview can be particularly nerve wracking. Given that panel interviews are here to stay, here are some of my tips to make sure you go in prepared and poised for anything the panel throws at you.

Before the Interview:
Do your homework: A panel interview is like any other interview, so make sure you ask your recruiter for more information on the panelists’ names and titles. Use the company website and LinkedIn to get background on their current role in the organization.
Practice Your Answers: Panel interviews typically focus on behavioral questions along the lines of “Tell me about a time you handled a tough situation?” or “How did you increase sales?” However, as you will have multiple people lobbing questions at you, take time beforehand to tailor your answers to the person asking it. Practice saying those answers out loud to make them as succinct as possible.

During the Interview:
Shake Hands With Everyone: Even though you may be nervous, outwardly project confidence. Shake hands with all the panelists and introduce yourself. If they offer their business cards, read it carefully to make a mental note of who is who on the panel and what function they serve. You can also make a note in your notebook and don’t be shy of taking notes during the interview – employers often appreciate that.

Let Panelists Finish Asking Their Questions: Don’t interrupt the panelists with breathless questions. Panel interviews tend to be more formal and interrupting the panelists becomes very disruptive. Take a deep breath and wait for your turn to answer.
If you Don’t Understand the Question, Ask them to Repeat it: If you’re unsure of what the question is getting at, ask the panelist to repeat the question. If you need more time to think about what you’re going to say, you can also paraphrase the question to frame your answer correctly.

Ditch the Jargon: Your panel may comprise of employees from different divisions, and they may not all be familiar with the technical lingo of your department. So, ditch the jargon and keep the answers simple and easy to understand.
Pay Attention to Body Language: Be mindful that even though you are answering one person, you have to acknowledge the rest of the panel as well. Make sure you maintain eye contact with all the panelists and try and build consensus among them with your answers.
Use the Interview to Showcase Your Cross-Functional Leadership Abilities: A panel interview needs you to make your case to a diverse group so you have to be able to state your achievements confidently and back them up with quantifiable proof. Moreover, as you have to communicate with different members of a group, panel interviews are test cases of how you interact with multiple personalities and perform under pressure.

After the Interview:
Don’t leave the room without making the most of the end of the interview. Make sure you smile, shake hands with the panel and reiterate why you think you’d be great for their open position.
And finally, don’t forget to send a thank-you email or note to all of the panelists. If you know who among them might be your boss – you can send them an individual note thanking them for the opportunity.
Are there any tips that I may be missing? Drop me line here to share your ideas on how to ace panel interviews.

QUESTIONS TO ASK IN AN INTERVIEW

“Do you have any questions for me?” The Answer Should Always Be, “Yes”
A job interview is not only the time for a company to decide whether or not you’re the right candidate for the job, but also to determine whether or not the company is a good fit for you. Interviews are structured so that the interviewer asks the majority of the questions, allowing you, the candidate, to do most of the talking. Working in this way allows you to walk through your resume and qualifications to prove your value and worth for a position. However, at the end of most interviews, the interviewer will often ask if you have any final questions. The answer should always be, “Yes.”
As a Senior Executive Search Consultant with Lucas Group, I have coached a number of candidates through the interview process, and I have compiled a list of suggested questions to ask during an interview:
What is the growth potential with the position?
This is one of the more important questions to ask an interviewer in order to see where he or she thinks the ideal candidate would be with the company in five years. Determine whether there’s a clear career path to follow and if the position would lead to more opportunities within the organization. You want to ensure the position provides vertical movement and would allow you to advance within the company with your tenure and success.
Why is the position open?
Get a clear understanding of why the position is available. Where is the pervious employee now? Did they leave for a better opportunity? Were they promoted? Feel out the interviewer for any red flags.
What would you define as success in the first year in the position?
Understand what goals there would be within the first year in the position and gauge their expectations, making sure they’re realistic.
Get to know your boss.
In some instances, the interviewer will be your manager. In others, it may be another individual. Ask about their management style and listen for any potential issues that may arise that would keep you from performing at your highest potential.
By having a prepared list of questions to ask the interviewer, you’ll be able to gain better insight into the position and whether or not it would be a good career move both personally and professionally. What are other questions you have asked during an interview? We invite your thoughts in the comments below.