5 Practical Ways to Be a Better Construction Project Manager

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There are dozens of ways that you can become a better construction manager, but these 5 ways can be implemented today. Simple changes in team management techniques, communication methods, and construction project management software can make a big difference in team motivation and project execution.

The ultimate goal for any construction project is for it to be done on time and under-budget. Too often projects are undercut by communication miscues, lack of a firm direction, shifts in team morale, poor time management and an inability to adapt to changes. The following tips will provide you with some simple fixes to ensure a more efficient, communicative, and enjoyable construction project experience.

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1. Communicate with the Field Team & the Back Office

Communication is absolutely essential to the successful completion of any construction project. If the project manager, back office and field teams are not all on the same page, project direction can careen off course and precious time can be wasted.

Using the right collaboration tools can loop in all necessary departments and team members; whether it’s subcontractors, admins or architects, everyone understands their role. Plus, if you use a tool with centralized online file storage, everyone has easy access to important paper work like blueprints and RFIs, while simultaneously creating a paper trail to archive project communications.

But you’ll find that your projects go even smoother if, as a manager, your communications with your team extend beyond the nuts and bolts of the construction project, and enter into real human relationships. Ask a subcontractor about their weekend, or follow up with the front desk receptionist about their recent vacation. These friendly efforts pay dividends down the line in terms of respect, motivation and retention.

2. Delegate to Subcontractors with Confidence

Too often managers are seen as task masters, rather than leaders. Leaders are respected and followed, while task masters are often rebelled against. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your entire team and make real human connections. It will pay off.

Having communicated with your field team about things beyond the fundamentals of the project, they are more likely to listen to you and follow you. With this earned respect you can be more confident when assigning task to team members.

Always be direct and clear when assigning a task. Using a project management software with collaboration features can further improve clarity by providing a central hub for all communications, so team members can revisit directions and task assignments.

Be sure to monitor all tasks that you assign to monitor progress and see if any team members need help or further instruction, especially new hires. That way you can judge your own communication skills and see which subcontractors need to be managed a little bit closer than others.

Do you notice that certain instructions tend to get misunderstood? Note the pattern and brainstorm ways to communicate those instructions better next time.

3. Lead by Example on the Construction Site

As a construction project manager, it can be tempting to stay in your office and work closer with the administration side of the operation. Resist this temptation!

Your field crew will respect you more if you appear on site and show that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Your team will note the passion you have for the project, and they will be swept up in that fervor as well, increasing motivation.

Of course, your presence on site is sure to improve overall productivity and efficiency, a common result of being watched by your boss. But again, don’t instill fear in your subcontractors, but walk the grounds with an air of enthusiasm, authority, and urgency.

4. Closely Manage Your Time & Your Team’s Time

Time management is critical to the successful completion of a construction project. Lost time equals lost profits! This is where the right construction scheduling tool can really come in handy. Seek a tool that offers online timesheets that you can submit easily.

Finding an efficient way to track time and submit timesheets will both reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks, and make your subcontractors more inclined to submit their hours on time without delays. Plus, the office team will be much happier when it’s time to process payroll.

Just because your subcontractors can submit their timesheets remotely from the field doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in on their work. If you show up on the jobsite regularly, you can check to see if your employees really have the work ethic and drive they claim to exhibit on their time cards. The more you monitor their work schedules in person, the more urgency your subcontractors will display, thereby accelerating project completion while reducing construction costs.

5. Be Flexible & Adapt to Changes

No matter how strict you are about time management, every construction project will experience some sort of unexpected delay, be it from weather, sickness, or general miscues. However, since you’ve been tracking your time so well, you have been operating ahead of schedule and can afford to be flexible!

In fact, I encourage you to be flexible with your subcontractors and office teams. You’ve already decided to show more interest in their lives, so it’s time to reinforce your words with actions by allowing a little wiggle room in their work schedule if they’ve earned it. Your team will greatly appreciate it if you treat them as more than capital, and understand that they may need to take care of personal issues in order to do their best work, day in and day out.

That being said, don’t be a floor mat! Discern when someone is being genuine or not, and be sure to keep a close eye on general employee schedules. With the right software, workload calendars can show you just how packed certain employee schedules are, and how many hours they have been putting in lately. If you see that one employee needs a break, then reward their hard work by transferring some of their workload to an underutilized contractor.

In The End, It’s About Showing That You Care

I’m certain that you do really care about your teams and your construction projects. But do you show your team that you care often enough? Let your team, your stakeholders, and your clients see your enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm will translate into trust and motivation from your team.

You don’t need any special academic training to use these tips. Simply make a conscious effort to lead by example and make more human connections. Positive team morale yields positive project results!

Communicating effectively to every team member in a construction project can be hard, but the right technology can centralize communications and foster collaboration. ProjectManager.com is an online construction project management software that offers collaboration, planning and scheduling tools to aid any construction project. Plus, features like online timesheets reduce administrative work and improve quality control. See how it can help your construction project today by taking this free 30-day trial.

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