Does this situation sound familiar? You’re in a status meeting, struggling to pay attention, but the person talking isn’t engaging anybody or sharing any information you care about. The meeting ends, and instead of feeling like you have a better handle on things, you feel like you’ve all but wasted 30 minutes. As a construction manager, you have to ask yourself, “Is this how my team feels after one of my meetings”?
Too often managers call too many meetings to report on what’s happening and don’t involve the attendees, ask for input, have meaningful discussions, or adjourn with an action plan. – George Hedley, HardhatBizSchool.com
Whether you’re on a call with engineers or huddling in the field with electricians, holding unproductive meetings and ineffective conversations is a surefire way to push daily productivity on your project off-track. As a leader, your meeting goals should be to effectively communicate information, set performance expectations, answer questions and present a clear path toward completing the job. When crew members continuously walk away from discussions unsure about their responsibilities and unable execute as required, rather than questioning why they don’t “get it,” construction managers should look to hold themselves more accountable and figure out what they must do to get more productivity out of their crew. Here are a few tips for achieving this:
Prepare an action plan
This may sound like common sense, but all too often construction managers fall victim to inefficiency simply because they don’t have a plan for the tasks they want to accomplish. Whether it be drafting daily meeting agendas, creating project stakeholder calling lists and/or using a calendar to note weekly progress milestones, managers should figure out an effective process and tactics for keeping themselves organized. Executing against an action plan not only keeps managers prepared, it helps to set an expectation among crew members for achieving more productive workdays.
Hold purpose-driven meetings
By preparing an action plan, construction managers now have a roadmap for holding more efficient, purpose-driven meetings. When structuring an agenda, managers should think about what needs to be discussed and who needs to hear it. Then during meetings, discuss the most important items first so everyone understands that they are the most critical. If certain crew members aren’t needed for the entire meeting, section the agenda so they can leave after they’ve received the information they need. I timing remains an issue, work to finish meetings within a pre-set time frame by setting your smartphone alarm. Meeting for the sake of meeting or holding crew members longer than needed puts a strain on productivity, so holding quick, effective meetings allows everyone to get back to work faster.
Get the team on the same page ahead of the meeting
If you’re relying on meetings as the sole way to get your team on the same page, you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and on your crew. The project moves too fast, and too many decisions are made to wait for all hands to sit through a meeting they’re not all guaranteed to pay attention to. Using project management software that’s built for the field, and that helps handle the documentation and conversations around day-to-day task management, will help get everyone (and keep everyone) on the same page.
Photo © Michael Schoenfeld