Keys to Multigenerational Communication on a Jobsite

Beau Peters imageBeau Peters  •  

Multigenerational For a construction project to truly succeed, it takes more than just the skills of the trade. Construction is a team effort and communication is key. Project leaders must be able to effectively speak to the team so that everyone knows their role and objectives. This is especially important as we see people from multiple generations join the workforce.

The fact is that construction managers must continually improve their communication skills as our world becomes more diverse, and failure to do so could mean an unsuccessful project. To help you gain a better understanding, let’s talk about the importance of multigenerational communication and the keys to doing it right.

Why Communication is Important

There are many reasons why forepersons and managers need to hone their communication skills in this new multigenerational world. For starters, the same dangers still lurk on construction sites regardless of who is on staff. When working around machinery, heights, and heavy materials, everyone on the team must be able to actively speak to each other so no one gets hurt. Before work begins, there should be a safety meeting every morning where the manager ensures that everyone has their safety gear and answers any safety-related questions.

In addition to the safety aspect, the ability to communicate with everyone, including the newest recruits, could mean that many companies can attract the young talent that they sorely need. Since 2016, there has been a steep decline in the number of young people in the construction business, and that is often because the newer generations simply don’t understand the benefits of working in this field, or they feel like they may not truly be part of the crew. By demonstrating to new employees that you make an effort to clearly communicate and speak on everyone’s level, you might attract the new generations to join your crew and refer their friends.

On that note, it is important to understand how different generations prefer to communicate. Although there is no hard and set rule, in general, Baby Boomers tend to be a bit more reserved while Generation Z prefers to voice their concerns. Though there are exceptions, Baby Boomers are not always as well-rounded when it comes to technology as their younger counterparts, who often prefer to shoot a quick message via text or email rather than call on the phone. It is important to remember that having or not having any of these characteristics does not make someone a bad employee. It just means that management will need to modify their tactics.

Communication Keys

So, how does management clearly communicate with their team so that the job gets done both safely and effectively? There are several tactics you can try. For starters, you can think about the individual instead of the group and go from there. Ask each employee how they prefer to communicate and make sure that the message is delivered in that way.

Since everyone may prefer a different style, you can make communication easier by presenting the information you are sharing via multiple channels. That might mean sending an email and pairing it with a conference call, a video chat, or a text message that is sent to every employee’s phone. Make sure that your message is mobile-friendly and easy to understand so it doesn't get lost in translation when viewed on smartphones.

It is also a good idea to utilize a field management program that all employees can access to view necessary details of the project, including safety information. By having one central hub, you can ensure that your message is spread properly.

When it comes to hiring, in addition to finding workers with demonstrated construction skills, also make it a point to find people who have the soft skills that aren’t always taught in school, such as the ability to communicate both verbally and with the written word. If an applicant is eloquent during the interview and their resume is of high quality, then, assuming that they also have construction skills, consider adding them to the team. This individual could be the leader of the future, and if they already know how to communicate, then they could be an asset. If any of your current team members need help with their communication skills, then consider signing them up for a training course.

Encourage Mutual Respect

Above all, as a leader or manager of a construction project, you must ensure that there is mutual respect between all of your employees. Even if every worker understands the messages you convey, if they don’t treat each other properly, then there could still be problems on the job site including accidents or hurt feelings. There isn’t a person on your site who wouldn't feel hurt or unmotivated if they are insulted on the job, regardless of their age, so that behavior must not be tolerated.

Keep in mind that it is not just blatant name-calling that can be the issue either. You must also watch out for unintended workplace microaggressions, which could be verbal comments or even behavioral actions that can cause a worker to feel uncomfortable.

To prevent any type of insult or issue, management needs to encourage teamwork and have workers from all age groups work together towards a common goal. So you might intentionally place employees from three different generations on a job that requires the efforts of everyone to succeed. Once they accomplish their goals, they might then start to show the respect that everyone deserves since they know that everyone is there to work hard and get the job done. Sometimes, it just takes having people from different generations in the same space to facilitate communication.

As you can see, communication will continue to be of utmost importance as older workers retire and younger generations enter the workforce. Consider the tips above and turn your crew into a well-oiled machine.

To learn more about how Fieldwire can help with communication and collaboration on the jobsite, register for a live demo below.

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*Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things. *

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