It's much easier to talk about than doing, being clear whenever communicating with our field leaders, be it verbal, face-to-face, by cell-phone, when texting, or via sending e-mail, we need to regularly seek clarity. As one PM shared with me, “If you are going to be wrong…be clearly wrong!” Not sure that’s the best idea to embrace but it gets the point across about the need for clarity.
But how do we communicate clearly? Let me share a few methods that do not work, including:
· Talk louder, even yelling, when others don’t appear to understand.
· Talking to others without looking at them while you are barking out orders.
· Talking very quickly through your giving of information and not giving others a chance to ask questions.
· Not including a written outline or review of the information you are sharing, especially if the discussion involves more complicated facts, issues, etc.
So, how do we communicate more clearly on our jobsites? Remember, to do so greatly impacts the success of our jobs and places more confidence in those receiving our messages. Consider six actions that can strengthen the clarity of the messaging you are sending to those working to execute your projects.
1. Know your subject! This first action recommends that you first understand the information you are imparting to others. It’s hard to inspire people, much less influence their efforts and decisions if you do not understand what is at hand. Therefore, before passing on information or directing your field leaders and work crews, be sure to know the “Why” behind your topic. There is nothing worse than a leader passing on information or setting out plans when they are not clear about the intent and need.
2. Mentally rehearse your discussion! Depending on the complexity of the information you are presenting, you may be wise to rehearse the presenting of the information. Often, what sounds easy and normal to you may not always deliver a clear message. By rehearsing what you need to share, you can better gauge if you are delivering the message in a clearer fashion. An added thought is to present the information to someone first to see if your message was clear to them.
3. Ask more questions and take notes! I’ve always encouraged construction leaders to keep a pocket size notepad that can be quickly brought out to write down thoughts, ideas, questions, facts, etc. Because communication is a “two-way” experience, as questions from those listening to your messaging. Do they understand? Can they summarize to you what they think they heard you say? Do they grasp the reason behind the information? Such an effort will greatly improve the clarity of the information delivered. And again, take notes on other people when they are speaking to you.
4. Tell others what you are going to say; say it; and then tell them what you told them! Sound complicated? It really isn’t. This is an old trick shared by Zig Ziglar, once identified as the greatest motivator of people world-wide. His reason was simple: tell others what you want them to know or understand then, tell them the message. At the conclusion of sharing the information, tell them, in summary form, what you said and why you needed to tell them (On big or complicated issues). Remember, your goal in communicating is to have others crystal clear about what the goal is for the day, where to start the days efforts, when materials will arrive, what equipment may be needed, what the expectation of the client is, etc.
5. Always ask your listener to summarize your message! The construction schedule has seen such a squeezing of time allowed over the past decades. Most customers simply expect projects to be completed faster, and with the same perfect level of quality. The last thing we need to do is to create longer completion times just do to our inability to be clear the first time. Just as we expect production to be completed the right way…the first time, so too do we need to be clear with our messaging the first time.
6. Follow-up with notes and summaries! Psychology has again and again encouraged people to take notes when listening or watching. It’s amazing how our brains work and one of the means to extend our memory is to record what we think we heard or observed. Even time you have a future conversation with your field leaders, start taking notes on your conversation. To be extra clear, send out a summary to those same individuals to confirm what you believed was the primary information that needed to be shared and embraced.
When influencing your field leaders and the work crews, it is important that we are all on the same page before working every day. Take the few extra seconds to strengthen that understanding. You will see your influencing of your leaders, and others, sky rocket as they gain more confidence in leading them in the right and clear pathway to success!
Here’s to being clear when communicating!
President and Founder of Pinnacle Development Group, Brad continues to speak at conferences about the world, working with contractors of all size. His weekly podcast, The Contractor’s Best Friend, continues to be an industry leader and is sponsored by Caterpillar and A.C. Business Media. Seek his podcast on “Forconstructionpros.com” for more learning.