Contractor Must-Know: How to Handle Conflict During Construction

No matter how small or how big a project is, it is always prone to challenges. Oftentimes, major conflicts like claim disputes, arbitration, and litigation may even come up. These types of problems are not just time-consuming, they can be very costly too. The National Research Council estimates that $4B to $11B is spent annually in resolving these cases in the U.S. market.

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And as a contractor, you often have to play the role of an unbiased outside party. You have to do whatever it takes to avoid these costly nightmares. To aid you in this, check out the following practices often upheld by Project Neutrals or Individual Dispute Review Boards.

1. Develop Trusting Relationships

You have to develop trust between all stakeholders of the project. If you’re building a home for a family, you have to consider each member’s needs, while also putting into account any homeowner, neighborhood, city, municipal, or state guidelines. In the case of people, when trust levels are high, there is less tendency for involved parties to be defensive. Conflict resolution is much easier if everyone is on the same page.

2. Be an Active Participant in the Project

In order to establish your role in a project, and to build trusting relationships among stakeholders, you shouldn’t just be a passive observant. Be an active participant! Make your significance clear. Make your presence felt. Assure them that you have their best interests in mind and that you have the capacity to make it happen. Let them see you do your stuff.

3. Communicate Clearly

Nothing spells a sure disaster more than unclear communication. We all know that construction projects can amass a lot of paperwork, documentation, permits, and so on. We have to ensure that the message of each document is crystal clear and cannot be interpreted vaguely. Not just in paperwork, you have to ensure that all modes of communication are clear. Be it text, email, calls, or in-person communication— it’s a must to deliver your instructions as clearly as possible.

4. Treat Everyone Fairly

Don’t just prioritize your client. You also have to be fair to your employees, contractors, drivers, business partners, suppliers, and so on. To avoid (and resolve) conflict, you have to make them feel that you are being fair to everyone who’s involved in the project.

5. Be a Resource Person

As the project manager or construction manager, you should be the nucleus or nerve center of knowledge. All parties concerned should be able to come to you and ask questions. Of course, it’s your job to have information ready at a moment’s notice. For this you have to maintain a stable timeline, have good reporting skills, and a firm grasp of the project’s status.

Construction can be a real pain in the behind, IF you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s important to study best practices, learn from mistakes, and use whatever tools and resources you have at your disposal.

Automated Trackers believes in you! Happy building!

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