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Improve Communications Across Professions


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Do you ever find you feel like everyone on your project team is talking a different language? Do you find it hard to solve design and construction problems because you feel like you don't have the right information? This course will provide attendees with effective techniques to better communicate with the project team, which includes architects, engineers, consultants, contractors, and owners.

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Improve Communications Across Professions

  1. 1. A217 SLFStrategies A217 Improve Communications Across Professions IC:3-3 Susan Faigen, SLFStrategies John Schneider, Gateway Engineers
  2. 2. Credit(s) earned on completion of this course will be reported to AIA CES for AIA members. Certificates of Completion for both AIA members and non-AIA members are available upon request. This course is registered with AIA CES for continuing professional education. As such, it does not include content that may be deemed or construed to be an approval or endorsement by the AIA of any material of construction or any method or manner of handling, using, distributing, or dealing in any material or product. _______________________________________ ____ Questions related to specific materials, methods, and services will be addressed at the conclusion of this presentation.
  3. 3. Do you ever find you feel like everyone on your project team is talking a different language? Do you find it hard to solve design and construction problems because you feel like you don't have the right information? This course will provide attendees with effective techniques to better communicate with the project team, which includes architects, engineers, consultants, contractors, and owners. Course Description
  4. 4. Learning Objectives 1. Utilize newly strengthened communication skills 2. Identify effective communication methods to ensure better understanding amongst the whole project team 3. Use appropriate forms of communication by understanding how to use technology when communicating At the end of the this course, participants will be able to:
  5. 5. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” George Bernard Shaw Communication is neither the transmission of a message nor the message itself. It is the mutual exchange of understanding, originating with the receiver.  Business communication involves constant flow of information.  Feedback is integral part of business communication.  Business Communication is goal oriented.  Business Communication is regulated by certain rules and norms.
  6. 6. Advantages of Oral Communication 1. Oral/Interpersonal communication offers a high level of understanding and transparency 2. Oral communication is not rigid. There is flexibility for allowing changes in the decisions previously taken. 3. Feedback is immediate, decisions can be made quickly. 4. Oral communication is best for resolution of disputes/conflicts. 5. Oral communication is essential for teamwork and group energy.
  7. 7. Disadvantages of Oral Communication 1. Relying only on oral communication is usually not sufficient for business communication. 2. Oral communication is less organized and precise than written communication. 3. There may be misunderstandings as the information shared in a conversation is usually not complete. 4. Oral communication requires attentiveness and receptivity on the part of the receivers/audience.
  8. 8. Advantages of Written Communication 1. Written communication is more precise and explicit. 2. It is a permanent means of communication and serves as a record. 3. It enables proper delegation of responsibilities.
  9. 9. Disadvantages of Written Communication 1. Effective written communication requires appropriate use of language and vocabulary. Poor writing skills and quality have a negative impact on organization’s reputation. 2. Too much paper work and e-mails can be burdensome.
  10. 10. 1. Differences in perception 2. Information Overload 3. Inattention 4. Time pressures 5. Emotions 6. Complexity in Organizational Structure 7. Poor retention Barriers to Good Communication
  11. 11. 1. Completeness The communication should convey all facts required by the audience, leaving no questions in the mind of receiver. 2. Conciseness 3. Empathy Effective communication must take the audience into consideration 4. Clarity Be specific; use exact, appropriate and concrete words. 5. Courtesy Be sure to consider the viewpoints and feelings of other team members. A courteous message is positive, focused at the audience, and uses terms showing respect for the receiver of message. Guidelines for Effective Communication
  12. 12. Architecture Vs. Engineering: Solutions for Harmonious Collaboration; Architecture, Jul 22 2015 According to Olsen and Mac Namara’s research, professional identity and vocabulary were common inhibitors of communication, and ineffective communication was the greatest inhibitor of collaboration. Consider “differentiation”: Architects might picture this illustration when they think of differentiation as a visualization of a curved surface.* *Differentiation” from an architect’s perspective. Courtesy Clare Olsen. Effective Communication in A/E/C
  13. 13. And engineers might visualize “differentiation” as the calculus concept used to measure rate of change.* *Differentiation” from an engineer’s perspective. Courtesy Clare Olsen. Effective Communication in A/E/C
  14. 14. BUILDING STRONG TEAMS A GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE AEC COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION WITH BIM 2015* Communication Strategies and Technologies *The Center for Education and Research in Construction (CERC) Effective Communication in A/E/C
  15. 15. Provide deadlines, reasons, and information needs. The work-loads are different between AEC professionals and each culture defines terms in different ways. For example, “as soon as possible” has a different meaning for architects than it does for contractors. When you communicate with team members, be clear and concise about what information you need, why you need it, and when that information is needed. Effective Communication in A/E/C
  16. 16. If face-to-face communication with a team member is not possible, use the phone instead of sending instant messages or emails. Instant messages are not documented on a project and emails are often difficult to track and respond to, especially on large projects. After the call, document decisions, such as confirming RFIs or other project records. Effective Communication in A/E/C
  17. 17. Have face-to-face discussions using a screen or sharing a desktop monitor to provide the person you are conversing with a better understanding of what you are talking about. If using written correspondence, accompany images with a written narrative describing the meaning of the images. Effective Communication in A/E/C
  18. 18. When face-to-face meetings are not available, virtual meeting technology is an effective solution to connect team members with project information and to discuss project issues. Explore using virtual meeting tools to connect the project models with the team members. Encourage discussion around models and other project documents, as opposed to the notion that digital storage and retrieval is sufficient communication. Use tools that help the team interact together with their documents. Effective Communication in A/E/C
  19. 19. Use explanatory memos. Use memos that provide narratives with technical information, such as estimates and models to communicate with team members. These memos provide better contextual information. Effective Communication in A/E/C
  20. 20. A217 John Schneider
  21. 21. EMAIL COMMUNICATION GENERAL GUIDELINES  Treat it as a written document because it is.  Legally, it’s as discoverable as a written report or letter.  Don’t treat it as an informal text or note.  Be sure to include all information that is needed by the recipients.  Internal emails are just as discoverable as external emails. Do not include informal comments in internal emails.
  22. 22. Email Do’s and Don’ts 1. DO write emails so that they’re concise and pertinent to the subject. DON’T re-iterate the entire project or issue history. 2. DO drill down to the subject at hand. DON’T consider that everyone will know what you’re talking about. 3. DO check spelling and punctuation in body of email as well as in subject line. 4. DON’T mark emails as urgent unless they really are. 5. DO make it clear who, in the group email, needs to respond to what. DON’T assume that everyone will figure it out for themselves.
  23. 23. Email Do’s and Don’ts 1. DO focus on as little as possible in each email to avoid “Too Much Information”. DON’T put footnotes in the email about Project B when the email is focused on Project A. 2. DO include whomever “needs to know” when sending to a group. DON’T just “reply to all” just in case someone else might need to know. 3. DO include all necessary information so that the recipients don’t reply with questions. For example, when scheduling a site meeting for a new project, include the address as well as the project name. DON’T assume that everyone knows where to meet.
  24. 24. TELEPHONE COMMUNICATION GENERAL GUIDELINES  Can be more informal because it is not recorded in writing.  Legally, it’s your word against theirs if it comes down to a lawsuit.  Voice mails are recorded and should be treated as written communication.
  25. 25. Telephone Do’s and Don’ts 1. DO keep your comments concise and relevant to the subject at hand. DON’T tell the other party all about the six other things you need to do today when they only asked if you can attend a meeting. 2. DO invite only those people who have input to a conference call. DON’T invite everyone just because it was easier to do so. 3. DO use computer screen-sharing /conference call software when possible. DON’T use it if there are no graphics involved.
  26. 26. Telephone Do’s and Don’ts 1. DO define what project you’re calling about and what you want to discuss in the beginning in order to keep the call on track. DON’T be vague in the description of what you’re talking about. For example, use floor levels and grid lines to define a location of an issue instead of saying “the beam next to the duct shaft”. 2. DO estimate the time for the conference call and keep on track. DON’T just let everyone ramble on so that you’ve covered one item out of six in the call duration.
  27. 27. WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE GENERAL GUIDELINES  Treat these as legal documents that will be dissected if an issue ever arises.  Choose your words carefully.  Be sure to include all information that is needed by the recipients.  Proofread your own document. For significant documents, such as legal expert witness reports, consider having someone in the office proofread for you.
  28. 28. Written Correspondence Do’s and Don’ts 1. DO write letters and reports as if your college professor will critique them. DON’T believe that a “minor” document won’t be reviewed and potentially criticized in the future. 2. DO write each document independently from the last similar document if possible. DON’T re-use a similar document without proofreading every line because inevitably you’ll leave something in the document that does not apply to the project at hand. 3. DO keep the document pertinent and concise. DON’T comment on other items that are not pertinent.
  29. 29. Written Correspondence Do’s and Don’ts 1. DO provide a carbon copy only to those people who need to see it or who participated in the meeting/site visit that you are documenting. DON’T send a copy to everyone who is associated with the project just because it’s easy to do so. 2. DO document dates and times of meetings/site visits when providing minutes or reports of field visits. DON’T just note that you “visited the site last week.” 3. DO include photo documentation of site visits in the report. DON’T omit them because you feel that it’s not pertinent.
  30. 30. A “minor” spelling misunderstanding What was written: Precast concrete tolerances shall be per the PCI MNL 117 excerpt as attached. What was interpreted: Precast concrete tolerances shall be per the PCI MNL 117 except as attached. Highlighted excerpts were attached which were the tolerances applicable to the project. The client interpreted it as all tolerances in that document were applicable EXCEPT those that I highlighted.
  31. 31. Why good communication is essential
  32. 32. This concludes The American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Systems Course John Schneider Gateway Engineers Susan Faigen SLFStrategies 412-409-2346 925-330-5811