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Well Works 
Construction published articles

Well Works has been highlighted in and has authored many articles for different construction publications on recruitment, retention, advancement, mental health, training, communication, leadership, and essential/ soft skills within the construction industry. 

Now in its 15th year, award-winning Colorado Construction & Design® (CCD) is Colorado’s leading construction news and marketing magazine. CCD conducted reader research upon launching the magazine and readers told us what they most wanted to see. With that, we have created and delivered the kind of news AEC professionals can use in a timely, organized manner.

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Construction Communication Tools

Publisher: 

November 14, 2023

Photo of construction worker in front of projected brain image

Construction Communication Tools

Written by Amy Powell

Founder and CEO of Well Works, Training Built for Construction

Published in: Colorado Construction and Design Magazine, Polly Ayres

Full Article: https://ccdmag.com/Winter-2024/index.html#p=53


 

Construction is a "people business"; it's a team sport. While most of our measured outputs are frequently physical in the form of structures, a foundational element to every structure is the communication and interaction between the collective individuals and project teams who've decided to invest their skills, knowledge, and energy to design and construct them. Simply put, communication is the adhesive of the construction industry; however, it has also become one of the most complex and challenging aspects. 

 

Our industry's overly ambitious timelines, high-pressure commitments, and stifling skilled labor shortages have caused us to seek more efficient ways to complete our tasks, including communication methods. While our management communication tools can be very efficient, using these tools perpetually as a one-size-fits-all approach decreases the effectiveness and compounds our industries' communication problems. Now more than ever, it is imperative to reinspect the communication tools in our toolbox, reevaluate which tool is best for a specific purpose or task, and bolster the associated skills to implement these tools correctly and effectively.

 

3-Main Construction Skillsets

 

Our construction skills can broadly be assigned into three buckets: technical, management, and leadership (which includes essential or soft skills). Each of us, no matter our role, engages each of these skills in different capacities throughout the workday depending on prior skill training, our experience, our contribution to the project team, the task at hand, and the desired outcome.  

 

For example, let's use the role of a Project Manager for the task of scheduling:

  • The technical skills would be knowing how to use and operate the software (P6, Asta, Project, etc.). 

  • The management skills would be building the tasks associated with a construction project, updating these tasks, and applying logic to associated predecessors, successors, and the expected completion date to determine the critical path.

  • The leadership (soft/essential) skills would be communicating this schedule to subcontractors, asking for their feedback, explaining and properly communicating delays, motivating them to allocate the appropriate amount of time, manpower, and materials, and building a relationship with them to increase trust, accountability, and motivation to carry out the required tasks to succeed as a team. 

The tools provided below relate to interpersonal communication, which is implemented more with our management and leadership skills than our technical (which engages more intrapersonal skills).

 

Choosing the Proper Communication Tool for the Job

The first step in choosing the proper communication tool is to identify the desired outcome of a specific task. In other words, what is the point of our communication? What is the intent or the end goal? What needs to happen (or not happen) to determine if our communication was effective (or not)? The "WHY" of communication is a frequently overlooked step but is essential in choosing the correct tool or method. Is it to communicate a change in the documents to everyone on site? Is it to motivate a crew to increase productivity or pace? Is it to discuss a difficult challenge encountered during the work? Is it to build respect and influence or build rapport?

·       To best determine which communication tool to use and when to use it, try assigning the appropriate skill (management or leadership) to the desired outcome. An easy way to distinguish between the two is: we manage THINGS; we lead PEOPLE. 

The second step is selecting the proper communication tool for the job:

·       Best Management Communication Tools and Methods (a.k.a Lean Communication Tools): Include e-mail, text, project management software, messaging software, etc. They are most efficient and effective for management tasks like transmitting documents that may require a lot of time to review and consider (plans, schedules, contracts, submittals, changes, etc.) and documenting interactions or discussions (meetings, decisions, changes, RFIs, etc.). 

·       Best Leadership Communication Tools and Methods: Include in-person, phone calls, and video calls. They are most efficient and effective for leadership tasks like building long-term relationships, trust and respect, handling conflict, discussing important, time-sensitive, or critical items, delivering or receiving difficult information, providing or receiving feedback, and motivating and igniting productive behaviors or extinguishing toxic behaviors. 

When building long-term relationships and trust with other project members, our management communication tools are simply not yet advanced enough to compete with our body's primordial physiological responses to good old-fashioned leadership communication methods (picking up the phone or in-person). Luckily for us, these management communication tools (e-mail, messaging, etc.) ARE now advanced enough to be highly efficient and effective when appropriately used for management outcomes and tasks. 

So, how do we increase and maintain the efficiency AND effectiveness of our communication as an industry? Provide the appropriate training to strengthen and bolster our different skill abilities (technical, management, leadership), and provide access to these proper tools. Then, it's as simple as selecting and implementing the right tool for the job. 

 

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Amy Powell, Well Works' current founder and CEO, has developed and implemented essential construction "people" skills programs, workshops, training, coaching, and consulting for those working in and with the industry. With over two decades of experience working in construction, this Project Manager turned Director of Training recognized that the success of our projects relies not only on technical and management skills but even more so on our leadership skills. Tired of searching and waiting for applicable or accessible training, she rolled up her sleeves, collected her MEd in Adult Education, and developed products and services to support the most critical aspect of our industry: the people.


Well Works Company Info:

Well Works provides online and in-person training curricula, programs, workshops, consulting, and coaching for construction project and field leaders. Founded on over 40 years of combined construction experience with perspectives from both the commercial subcontractor and GC levels, these programs are strategically built to equip those working on our projects to bolster their essential skills (communication, leadership, EQ, conflict management, team motivation, etc.)


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