Every commercial construction project consists of many different elements. These include different roles, tasks, meetings, details, and decisions throughout the course of the project. Clear and effective communication is key to ensuring all of these factors work together smoothly. On the flip side, poor communication is one of the prevailing issues that can derail a commercial construction project.
At Crain, communication is a core value that informs our approach to every project we build. After managing thousands of projects over the years, we’ve learned the principles and best practices that promote effective and efficient communication. We often refer to our framework for communication as “Top to Bottom and Side-to-Side.”
“Top to Bottom” and “Side-to-Side” Communication
Here are a few specific ways this framework strengthens relationships, mitigates surprises, and ensures everyone involved with a project is moving in the same direction:
1. We Listen from “Top to Bottom” and Treat Others with Respect
In every interaction, we make it a priority to listen first and try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Our ability to listen and understand our clients’ larger goals and objectives is just one of the reasons we’ve been able to develop strong relationships with project owners over the years. We also use this approach on the job site, including in our interactions with executive leadership, project managers, and trade partners.
2. We Foster “Side-to-Side” Collaboration through Open Conversation
We believe that leaning into conversations with candor and collaboration is key to identifying solutions and removing barriers. We recognize that our relationship with architects is an important factor in the overall success of a project, and we’ve learned how to avoid the communication pitfalls that cause these relationships to go south. We also embrace collaboration across our company. It’s not uncommon for our project managers to get together to learn from one another and help address problems together.
Tips for Effective Communication in Commercial Construction
Here are a few specific principles that have helped us create an effective “top to bottom & side to side” communication framework for our projects:
1. Collaborate as Early as Possible in the Pre-Construction Phase
The earlier an owner, contractor, and architect can begin collaborating on a project, the better. Working together to identify goals and address potential issues during the pre-construction phase can build a solid foundation for the project.
2. Establish a Chain of Communication
It’s incredibly easy for a project to be derailed if there aren’t proper communication protocols in place. A detailed chain of communication that outlines the appropriate point of contact is vital for ensuring that information is getting to the right people in a timely manner.
3. Clarify Expectations for Communication
Every construction project includes a variety of communication methods. We communicate with owners and architects through in-person conversations, Zoom meetings, phone calls, and emails. We communicate on the job site with signs, drawings, and daily reports. As a general contractor, it’s our role to understand our client’s expectations for communication and ensure our team and trade partners follow the same consistent communication protocols.
4. Listen and Be Open to Feedback
Clarity and candor are key to successful communication. This requires a posture of listening and a willingness to ask and honestly answer tough questions. Rather than knowing exactly what our clients or architects think, we lean into their expertise. We are constantly learning from our trade partners as subject matter experts in their specific fields.
5. Hire and Work with Good People
Establishing trust is the outcome of effective communication. Honesty and integrity are character traits we look for in every person we add to our team and every trade partner we hire for a job. When you hire good people, you not only tend to communicate more effectively, but you also enjoy the work a lot more.
Experience the Value of Working with Crain
Cultivating the best communication practices is the key to success for construction projects. Whether you’re a developer looking for a contractor or a construction professional seeking a new role, we’d love to connect. Reach out to learn more about our approach and how we can help with your next project.