Communication builds relationships, and achieving success in the built environment sector calls for building relations with clients both existing and potential. So it goes without saying that the way one communicates with ultimately shapes one’s professionalism which creates his identity and consequently builds ones reputation and brand in the industry.
All forms of communication namely- written, spoken, reading and listening are required in this industry in ample measures, without great communication, in the holistic sense, any project is doomed by timescale slips, workers being disillusioned and in the absence of good leadership, and the output will naturally be substandard.
A research paper by RICS Cobra (2016), observed that communication skills are the most valued skills of a project manager in the built environment sector. The research paper throws insights into some very interesting facts about the importance of communication skills. Most often people focus on the practical skills involved in construction and real estate, which though very relevant cannot take one far without strong peoples skills.
Some of the basic communication skills required in the industry are-
Leadership Skills- Though not a communication skill in the real sense, Leadership is lost without communication. Effective guidance, motivation, the ability to show authority and lead by example for taking the project to its completion, all this requires clear and concise communication that is both hard-hitting and easy to understand.
Decision making and problem solving- Problem solving actually takes off from leadership, but it is more involving since it requires the skill to analyze the problem, identify solutions and convey the same to the workers so that they are convinced of the same. Managers will require to how independent decision making skills and this they will need to communicate back to the team effectively keeping the 7 C’s of communication in mind.
Listening- This is a very tricky art to master, since it’s a selective activity and requires the mind to be controlled in order to give a good hearing, not clouded by clichés and personal opinions. At the heart of communication lies the most important skill of understanding, and therefore as a manager it becomes important to give every team member a chance to speak his mind, without interrupting his thoughts.
Motivation- It has been observed in the built environment sector that highly motivated teams work effectively, and a team that lacks motivation resorts to strikes, lower productivity and increased stress levels. A project manager allows every member of his team to feel a sense of belonging, giving them some rights to make their own decisions and communicate their thoughts effectively back to manager who acts on them.
Conflict Management- Conflicts when left unmanaged can jeopardize an entire project. Through effective communication techniques, a manager anticipates this and with proactive attitude approaches them for resolutions. Good listening will form a key element in this scenario.
Meetings- This requires all essential communication skills to be effective. The most important ingredient in effective meetings is to keep it on track, on time, and most importantly, it allows it to be proactive by giving every member a chance to give their input. It offers a huge scope for a 2-way-communication to manage the project by getting every stakeholder a feel of belonging, rather than a platform for the manager to dictate.
Team development & Team building- A team requires sensitive handling for the members to move towards the success of a project manager’s role becomes very important. He has to be able to identify team skills and communicate them effectively for the ultimate success.
Writing- Documentation is a very important aspect of project management and real estate management. All documents require the manager to develop the art of writing and understanding the written word. Be it contracts, tenders, bids, letters of intent or a description of the scope of work; written skills comes to the foremost and understanding the importance of each written word becomes important. Wording an email right to convey the information with a bang, or a crisp WhatsApp message, all require a total command over communication. It’s not wrong to say that a project is managed with effective words.
Negotiating- The most important skill required by a project or real estate manager is the art of negotiating effectively with each stakeholder to create an environment in which conflicts can be resolved and joint decisions can be made.
Explaining- Every successful project is a result of good decisions taken and effectively communicated. The 7 C’s of communication plays an important role in bringing clarity and focus to every project brief or client dealing. When a client is investing his life’s savings on a dream home, he needs to be doubly clear about his investment. Explanations need to be crystal clear and believable.
The points explained above are far from the only skills required in the built environment sector, but they are important are important people skills that contribute towards the success of every project and deal.