More than ever, communication can make or break a project. This can be especially true on large commercial projects because they are becoming increasingly complex. We face greater financial and scheduling pressures, increased on-site rules and regulations as well as code compliance issues like never before. This is why establishing communication protocols with project stakeholders early on is so important.
I stress the importance of starting early because activities on a job site can degrade quickly when everyone isn’t on the same page. On a challenging job our company was 80% completed, only then did the owner and GC request a day-long “partnering” meeting with all the stakeholders to set a clear path for the rest of the project. This meeting was a delinquent and an ineffective approach to get everybody in alignment.
By comparison, on a different large and challenging commercial project, we saw principals, construction supervisors, foremen and other stakeholders meet at the start of the project to establish norms and expectations. Diligently scheduled progress meetings by the stakeholders followed and the project proved successful. More importantly, the quality, schedule and financial performance were outstanding.
On some projects it feels like we are “reinventing the wheel” to establish some common communication ground. It is critical that all levels of the project team—owners, GC, subcontractors and vendors share a common communication strategy. Not everyone’s communication style is alike. Sometimes the distinctions are because of technology, with one party preferring phone or in-person meetings, another satisfied with text messaging. Different generations communicate differently, and we must figure out how to support and coach each other to bridge the gaps. The biggest challenge often isn’t communicating down from supervisors to subordinates, but communicating up to the next level of decision-makers.
Our industry, regardless of the size of our member contractors’ companies, acknowledges that it must develop effective communication strategies within the team, but some of our smaller member companies don’t have the in-house resources to effectively address this issue. One of AWCI’s goals is to provide some of those resources, which are integrated into other initiatives such as physical health, mental health and safety training.
Until next time, have a productive and safe month.
In addition to being 2023–2024 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Travis Winsor is president and CEO of The Raymond Group, which has offices in California and Nevada.