Constructive Communication

Keith Brubacher

Keith A. Brubacher

In the Brubacher household, we're in the process of teaching our youngest daughter how to drive. I'm glad to report it's going well so far, notwithstanding the unsolicited comments from her 12-year-old brother in the back seat!

A new driver has a lot of things to learn, keep in mind and listen to while driving to a destination. As a result, when driving to a new destination, we as parents (or a GPS) provide bite-sized information about when and where to turn.

It's interesting to me how some multi-million-dollar construction projects are run like teaching my daughter to drive. Construction communication sometimes comes in fragmented pieces or without the context of a goal. Clients and contractors may only choose to share information related to the next step of the project. This hinders a clear picture of the overall project objectives, future challenges and opportunities.  In fact, the core difference between collaborative construction and ‘combat construction' lies within how freely and timely information flows both ways between contractor and client. These two concepts are rather self-explanatory and likely bring specific examples to mind!

The longest-lasting and most successful client relationships with Brubacher are those where information, objectives and communication is exchanged early and often. This is a direct link to the fact that 90% of our work comes from repeat or returning clients.

I have observed times when our project teams are approached with requests that run counter to a client's stated goals, only to discover later that the purpose had changed. After everyone eventually understands the new objective, we are far better equipped to offer additional possibilities for solving the issue.

Those who succeed in our industry have long ago learned that email salvos restating and retrenching one's viewpoint do little to bring understanding to the real issues and their potential solutions. To the extent we take time to understand the goals, opportunities and risks of other key project stakeholders, we will succeed in reducing stress and managing risk together.