Is your roofing crew communicating well? Communication problems in the workplace—and especially on the jobsite—can hurt your roofing business’s efficiency in the field, its reputation with customers and its profitability. For employees, communication problems mean less job satisfaction; for you, they can mean more difficulty attracting and retaining qualified workers.
Don’t think communication is that big a deal for your roofing crew? Consider these downsides of poor communications:
- Climbing ladders, balancing on scaffolding, walking on roofs, working in hot weather—roofing is inherently dangerous. Poor communication can easily lead to damaged property or equipment, serious injury or worse.
- Time is of the essence in roofing jobs. (No one wants delays in fixing their leaky roof.) But when your team doesn’t communicate, project delays are inevitable—and your customers won’t be happy about it.
- Maintaining a roofing company’s profit margins requires carefully managing materials and labor expenses. But miscommunications can leave you with excess materials or idle workers on the jobsite who still have to be paid.
- When you, your foreman and your workers aren’t communicating clearly, workers will feel less valued. Without direct communication from up above, rumors spread among your crew, and dissatisfaction grows.
Here are six steps you can take to improve communication among your roofing crew.
- Make communication a priority. If poor communications has been a problem in the past, let your roofing crew know that things are about to change. Explain the reasons for improving communication and the benefits for the company as a whole and the individual workers.
- Create communications systems. Who’s working on what roofing project can change from day to day, so it’s important to establish communications processes that everyone can rely on no matter where they are. Create a process for how communication flows between the office, the project manager, the foreman and the crew.
- Take advantage of technology. It’s hard for your team to be on the same page when everyone is looking at their own clipboards or scrawled notes. Use web-based project management software so the back office and foremen in the field can see key information updated in real time. Choose and use mobile tools that enhance communication among roofing crews—especially between the teams up on the roof and those on the ground.
- Use both audio and visual communication. Distance between workers and background noise on the job site can hinder audio communications, especially with workers up on the roof. Supplement audio with visual cues, such as hand signals or flags to convey information. That way, your crew doesn’t have to rely on yelling to one another other over the din of a backhoe, or leaning precariously over the edge of the roof.
- Hold regular meetings. No matter how busy your crew is, take time every few weeks for an all-hands meeting where you discuss problems that have come up on the job site. Focus on the positive: Ask for everyone’s input and brainstorm ways to do things better. When your crew feels you care about their opinions, they’ll be more loyal to your business.
- Provide communication training. Project managers and foremen, in particular, need good communication skills to keep work running smoothly. If you feel they need extra help, invest in outside training for your key players. It will pay off in better communication—which ultimately means cost savings, a more productive crew and a happier workforce.
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