Conflict between workers and management is common in all career fields. On a construction site, however, conflict or confusion can lead to physical injury, damaged buildings, or loss of money. The stressful nature of the building industry requires that superintendents, foremen, and project managers become experts in conflict resolution in safe, effective, ways.

How to Expertly Manage Construction Site Conflicts

One of the most important things, to both reduce the cause of conflict and to help settle it, is clear, concise communication. Putting the workers’ instructions in clear wording, verbally going over the instructions to ensure comprehension, and manually showing the workers how to complete the tasks will go a long way towards creating quality work. Many conflicts on the job site can be attributed to poorly-understood direction. If the foreman or supervisor isn’t clear on the manner in which the project manager needs the tasks done, it becomes their responsibility to get that knowledge so that the foreman or supervisor can clearly instruct his workers. This need for clear, understood direction isn’t just something that is necessary for individual tasks – general, construction site safety rules and union regulations (where applicable) must also be defined and understandable.

If a conflict arises on the site despite the supervisor’s best efforts to prevent one, then it is very important to handle it discreetly, unemotionally, and quietly. In an industry where safety and care is critical, emotions can run high. If needed, the parties in conflict should take an “adult time out”, and come back when they are sufficiently calm to discuss the issue at hand. All communication should be respectful and non-personal. Keep focused on resolving the issue, not “being right” or making derogatory comments about the other person or team. If one or both persons involved in the conflict are unable to discuss the issue without becoming over-passionate, then a third party mediator should be called in to finesse the argument and keep the focus on solving the problem.
When searching for a solution, it’s necessary to keep the project specs and expectations handy, so that the focus remains on completing the job correctly. If both parties frame their arguments in a way that shows how they plan to meet those expectations, a lot of the “personal element” can be taken out of the conflict.

Conflict is normal on a construction site, but resolving it in a respectful and safe manner determines whether the company is engaged for a future build or not. Keep calm, focus on the project and overall safety, and don’t be afraid to ask for a third party mediation where necessary.

If you want to get the expertise of our construction management professionals, then get in touch with Trilogy Corporation today. Trilogy provides comprehensive construction management, property assessments, and other strategies to maintain assets efficiently, invest resources wisely, and increase quality of service.