Improve Communication on the Job Site
The importance of communication cannot be overstated. Regardless of whether you’re in the office, in the shop, or on the job site, failure to communicate effectively can result in delays, wasted resources – even personal injury. On-site communication, however, has a unique set of obstacles that need to be addressed in order to minimize those serious hazards.
Let’s face it: Job sites can be hectic.
In a typical day, you might need to ensure materials have been delivered in the right sequence so that construction isn’t interrupted. If the right people don’t know that those materials have been delayed, the delay can cause a domino effect that throws the whole project off schedule. Scheduling communication also comes into play when it comes to available resources. Have you ever had to settle a dispute about who gets to use the forklift first? Perhaps most importantly, a huge barrier to communication is distance. You want to be certain that the crew 50 feet up knows what’s happening on the ground if it’s going to impact them.
To this end, here are a few practices you might consider adopting to ensure that your job site runs like clockwork; in the best and most efficient manner.
We know, we know: nobody gets overly excited about meetings. However, the 10 minutes it takes to rally the crew and ensure that everyone is on the same page can save hours of confusion later in the day. It’s worth it. This type of huddle-up meeting can be held in the morning so that everyone knows what the primary goals are, and what to expect during the day and how to perform work in a safe manner. This is best kept brief, but can also be an opportunity to allow for questions and prevent later misinformation. The last meeting of the week can also be a good time to discuss the next week’s agenda so that everyone starts the coming week with the same goals.
It’s one of the simplest additions you can make to the job site. If you aren’t already using a checklist that can be accessed by the crew, you should try it. Keep the list of the tasks that need to be completed in a centralized location (by the cooler, for instance). That way, everyone can mark the items off when they’re completed. This allows for a visualization of project hierarchy, and across-the-board ownership of responsibility. Having visual feedback helps focus otherwise scattered efforts.
The brunt of enabling a workforce to perform at its highest level is dictated by trust and communication. The front line is often better suited to offer project-specific advice because they are the ones familiar with what’s actually happening on a tangible level. The success of major players like Google, DHL and REI in encouragement of employee engagement has only reinforced something we already knew: Engaged employees are better employees. Establishing your own method of getting feedback from your workers is worth the effort. But it’s not enough just to set up a suggestion box…the system only works when employees know their voices actually matter.
There’s no immediate cure-all to improve job site communication. It’s ultimately a matter of understanding your specific crew and what methods best facilitate reliable transmission of the important information. That is to say, you might need to do a little bit of experimentation before setting new procedures in stone. If a ten-minute meeting in the morning consistently doesn’t prepare you for the afternoon, maybe try splitting it into two five-minute meetings. The important part is to be willing to adapt to the changing needs, and to continue striving toward an environment of reliable communication and efficiency.
At Mid-Land Enterprises, we take pride in building structures, components and millwright services with professional personnel who commit themselves to operating in a safe environment. If you are also in continual pursuit of excellence, consider downloading our free resource, Proper Job Site Maintenance Checklist.