Good leaders prioritize communication, both with external partners and their team members.
In the construction industry, this is especially vital. Team members can be at multiple projects and venues, working on different projects.
Field leaders need to be able to manage the remote nature of construction work, the fact that they are often dealing with subcontractors or vendors and communicating critical and timely updates. Without correct and updated information, projects can fall behind, or worse – individuals can be hurt.
“Leaders have to create a safe environment – and that can’t happen without good communication,” said Celeste Regina, a Human Resources expert. “Communication is the key to solving problems, coming up with new ideas and retaining talent.”
Communication is the key to solving problems, coming up with new ideas and retaining talent.
Unfortunately, said Regina, not everyone learns how to communicate effectively – especially if they haven’t had good role models.
“Often, as we grow in our professions, we emulate what we have seen,” she said. “But if you have had leaders who haven’t always communicated effectively, then that can create confusion about how to proceed effectively. The good news is that it is a skill you can constantly hone, no matter how long you've been leading a team, if you are new to your role or just planning for future growth opportunities.”
Below are some practical approaches for leaders looking to improve their communication skills.
1. Be present in your interactions
Two practical steps to improve communication is to be present in each interaction and recognition that every person has their own specific communication style. Removing distraction from personal interactions or meetings is critical.
For example, don’t scroll on your phone when having a conversation with someone. Also, be aware of how your own communication style as it relates to others and how each person involved best gives and receives information.
2. Focus on the intended audience
Design your communication for the intended audience. What information do they already have? What do they need? How much time do they have to consider the message? F
Front-line workers, for example, may want information that affects their individual tasks while upper management may need be assured that certain milestones – such as assigned trainings – have been completed.
3. Observe follow-up actions
Is your team acting on instructions? One way to help with this is to utilize a communication process that tracks messages. With the Mindforge app, messages are shared with team members based on projects, roles or responsibilities – and those messages are shared in a way that creates accountability. Users can be required to acknowledge messages received or answer as needed.
4. Practice purpose-driven communication
It's very important to know exactly what you want out of a conversation and to also try to understand the motivations behind another person’s perspective. This helps you quickly come up with a solution that can get a win for both sides. Sometimes, asking a great question can often be 10 times more powerful than speaking. As a leader, your time is limited, and you have to make the most out of every single minute.
One way the MindForge app can help with this is getting out quick messages to everyone, in the same way, swiftly and efficiently. It also allows team members to process the messages and absorb on their own time.
5. Listen more than speak
Active listening is one of the best ways to encourage open and honest communication as a leader. Knowing your audience's motivation, preferred communication styles and learning styles allows you to adapt your message and increase the odds of effective communication.
6. Repeat for clarity and understanding
People often forget that communication is a two-way street. To improve it you have to start first by really listening to what the other party is trying to say. Take a pause after someone shares an idea.
Respond by naming what you think you heard. You'll be shocked by how people respond and engage when they feel heard in the first place.
7. Review engagement regularly
Constantly evaluate how a message was received by your audience. Did a message you post inspire a bunch of comments? Was there a particular message that had a higher-than-average engagement? Identify what made that communication unique and replicate that in your future messages. Use feedback!
If you use the Mindforge app, this is a great place to start tracking engagement – identify easily what is resonating with team members.
8. Get Better at leading meetings
Leaders at every level in an organization need to communicate effectively. A good way to improve your skills in this regard is by leading your own meetings: Prepare the agenda, engage attendees and pay attention to how much energy is put into the meeting's takeaways. If you refine your ability to lead productive meetings, you've taken an important step in improving your communication skills.
9. Focus on self improvement
Leaders who have an honest sense of self, and are in tune with their people, are best at aligning their team with the company goals, strategy and culture. This happens by being focused on improvement for oneself, the company and the growth of reports. Lead by doing. Practice active listening and self-reflection. This naturally sets the stage, allowing goals to be achieved with greater volition.
So how can you brush up on your communication skills?
Check out our new (and for a limited time free!) Leadership Essentials I course, which is designed to help empower construction leaders with the skills they need to lead their teams.