On a construction site, as in all aspects of life – both personal and professional – communication is the ultimate key to success. Whether you are approaching a task, navigating the site, or running into scheduling issues, it is critical to speak with fellow workers and managers to keep them apprised about what’s going on. That way, everyone around is up to speed on potential safety risks, conflicts, and delays – all of which negatively impact a jobsite and everyone on it. When done right, communication can also improve teamwork and project collaboration, which makes the project run smoothly and also helps you better execute your own job, improving your opportunities for career advancement.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to communicate more effectively:
Give a heads up about key actions before taking them
It is not necessary to let everyone on site know what you are doing at all times. It is, however, helpful to let those around you know ahead of time about something you might be doing that could impact their workflow or safety. Before approaching a task with higher levels of risk, speak to the people around you so they can be on alert. Similarly, before operating heavy machinery or moving large equipment and loads, be sure to tell anyone who could be in your line of action. If you aren’t sure about something – especially tasks that are complex and carry a measure of risk – ask a colleague or a supervisor for advice.
Be an active listener
Communication requires actively engaging both as a speaker AND a listener. While you should make it a priority to inform those around you of any hazards, you also need to observe and listen to others when they do the same and take any necessary action to keep them and yourself safe. When possible, make eye contact and give verbal or nonverbal confirmation to let others know you are aware of their actions. Always try to be considerate and aware of fellow workers’ warnings and messaging.
Let supervisors know ASAP of any scheduling conflicts or emergencies
Your supervisor is ultimately responsible for how many people need to be on a job site in order to get the day’s work done right. Everyone understands that emergencies or scheduling conflicts happen. But in a time-sensitive industry like construction, it is absolutely critical that you communicate any difficulties you might be experiencing in real time – if at all possible. If you are injured or have an illness or family emergency and must take a day off, arrive late or leave early, let your supervisor know as soon as possible so they can approach the day’s tasks accordingly. In addition, construction is a weather-sensitive industry. It’s up to you to monitor the forecast and take appropriate precautions regarding your gear and clothing for the day, as well as check in with your supervisor to determine if work is progressing on schedule.