The top 10 communication skills every construction project manager needs

by Alex on August 14, 2017

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Successful projects are driven by great communication and project management activities are reliant on the project manager’s ability to communicate well.

Without great communication, timescales slip, workers become disillusioned and the absence of leadership results in substandard output.

A 2016 research paper by RICS Cobra looked at the project manager communication skills that are most valued by the construction industry.

The aim of this study was to rate and determine the core communication skills a construction project manager should possess to enhance and ensure project success, as well as if leadership is important to communicate effectively.” (An Assessment of Construction Project Managers’ Communication Skills in Project Success, RICS)

Based on the results of the research, here are the top 10 communication skills that every construction project manager needs for success:

1) Leadership skills

Leadership isn’t a communication skill as such, but it is seen a skill necessary for communicating effectively with the team. Leadership is all about guidance and being able to show authority and through leading by example and taking responsibility for the project at hand, project managers can more successfully communicate with their team.

2) Decision making and problem-solving

Coupling with leadership, project managers have to show independent decision-making skills and communicate this back to the team. Problem solving is slightly different and takes into account analysing a problem and identifying the solutions but the same rules apply, that the goal is to then communicate the learnings and decisions to the team.

3) Listening

Listening is as important a communication skill as talking. The art of listening, however, is a tricky one to master, because it’s a selective activity.

At the heart of communication lies understanding, which is why you should give every team member the chance to have their say without interrupting or finishing their sentences for them.

4) Motivation

“Motivation provides the right conditions for people to work effectively.” (An Assessment of Construction Project Managers’ Communication Skills in Project Success, RICS)

Highly motivated teams work effectively, but a lack of motivation usually results in strikes, lower productivity and increased stress levels.

As a project manager, you need to give team members a sense of belonging and empower them to make their own decisions with the best incentive of all – great communication on your part.

5) Conflict management

Many projects encounter conflict at some stage, but if left unmanaged, it can quickly derail the entire process.

Effective project managers anticipate this inevitability and proactively approach such scenarios with a level head and desire to resolve the conflict.

The art of listening will again play a key role here.

6) Meetings

Meetings get a bad rap, but they’re an essential part of project management. Most importantly, they require virtually every communication skill in this list to be effective.

The key to successful meetings lies in keeping them on-topic, on-time and giving everyone a chance to offer their input. They’re not a forum for the manager to dictate or dominate the room, but instead a way to manage the project and communicate with the team and stakeholders.

7) Team development and team building

This is all about team direction and guidance. As a group works together on a project, they become a team and it’s up to the project manager to guide the team to project success.

Identifying the team’s skills and helping them develop and utilise their skills in the project is a key part of the project manager’s role and it has to be communicated effectively.

8) Writing

Whether it be email, instant messaging or in-app communication, writing still plays a major role in project management.

Great literary skills in business don’t require Shakespearean prose – they simply need the author to understand how to tailor their words based on the channel being used (and when communicating face-to-face is more appropriate).

9) Negotiating

Negotiation requires a delicate balance between ownership of your principles and the ability to compromise.

If you can confer with others to come to terms with stakeholders or reach an agreement, you’ll create an environment in which conflict is a rare occurrence and joint decision making is favoured.

10) Explaining

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. The latter means we often need things to be broken down and explained as simply as possible.

Successful project managers combine explanation and questioning to communicate clear and comprehensive details to team members and ensure knowledge is properly taken onboard.

“All these skills are rated as extremely important or very important.” (An Assessment of Construction Project Managers’ Communication Skills in Project Success, RICS)

These communication skills are far from the only skills a construction project manager needs but they are also a key to success when managing a project. They allow you to take leadership, develop the team as the project goes on and clearly explain details of the project to all the team members.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Francesca August 22, 2017 at 9:53 pm

This is such an important blog post topic. Most of the time people focus on the practical skills involved in construction, which of course are crucial and hugely relevant. However practical skills can only take you so far, without people skills. Your point about motivation is one that gets overlooked regularly, but a motivated team can amaze people with their progress and productivity. And of course a lot of these points are linked, for instance improving team building will improve a group’s motivation. This is a brilliant blog post that hopefully will reach a lot of project managers!

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