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Even as the economy starts to re-open, there’s still a lot of uncertainty around COVID-19 in the construction industry. With doctors and governments posting new information and guidelines daily, things are changing rapidly. We’re truly in uncharted territory.

Your team members are certainly facing their own uncertainties and concerns, whether economic or health-related. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be conscious of and respond to team and group dynamics.

By taking some simple steps to keep morale up, your construction business can not only survive this crisis, but thrive in the midst of it. Here are some tips for how to manage team dynamics in the face of COVID-19.

(This post is part of PASKR’s COVID-19 Response Series. Click here for more information.)

 

Establish priorities.

Ideally, you would do whatever is necessary to take care of your team through an uncertain time. But this is the real world, and right now the situation is far from ideal.

You have real limitations — whether in terms of budget, time, or manpower — on what you’re able to do. Limitations inevitably lead to trade-offs. For example, if you want to avoid letting anyone go, the trade-off may be that you may need to implement across-the-board pay cuts.

When the time comes to make these kinds of decisions, having established priorities will help provide clarity and ensure you’re taking the best possible course of action for both the business and the team.

 

Listen with empathy.

In the midst of a crisis, a simple way to improve team dynamics is by listening to your team members.

Even if you’ve continued making payroll (which is an accomplishment in itself!), your team members are still going to have worries and concerns covering a wide range of issues, including the health and safety of themselves and their families, the stress of managing kids while they’re home from school, navigating shortages in food and supplies, etc.

That’s why empathy is so important, especially now. Treating your people like human beings, as obvious as it sounds, goes a long way toward building trust and rapport. And if you set the example, your team members will likely follow suit in their lateral interactions.

 

Build trust through over-communication and transparency.

Getting through this crisis as a team requires trust. As the general contractor or manager, one of your key roles and responsibilities is to build that trust.

This requires not just communication, but over-communication. In a crisis, attention spans shrink and people have a harder time focusing, so you need to repeat your messages multiple times if you want to get your point across.

Another way to build trust is through transparency. Being transparent shows that you respect your team enough to be honest and upfront. It shows them that we’re all in this together.

For example, you don’t want to overstate the financial picture in an attempt to put them at ease, only to have to suddenly start letting people go a week from now. This kind of veiled confidence helps no one, and in fact will increase everyone’s stress.

The more trust you have, the more effectively you’ll be able to manage the team and team dynamics, which will lead to greater morale and help you keep the business afloat during these uncertain times.

 

Don’t carry the weight of this crisis alone.

Even though you’re the leader and your team is looking to you to chart a course through the uncertainty, that doesn’t mean you have to carry this burden alone. If we’re going to pull through this, it’s got to be all hands on deck.

Your team will likely have some creative ideas on how to adapt and adjust to all this uncertainty. Maybe they have some ways to more efficiently use resources to reduce some costs. Your boots-on-the-ground may also have some suggestions on how to work social distancing into construction plans without ballooning project cost and time to completion.

We’re in an unprecedented era of innovation as businesses attempt to find ways to survive and thrive in the middle of the pandemic. There’s no reason why this can’t happen in the construction industry.

Right now, defined roles are less important than creative ideas. Involving your team in decision-making and leveraging all your resources to solve problems can help you find the best solution – while keeping morale up at the same time.

 

As part of our COVID-19 response, PASKR is providing resources to help construction companies achieve excellence in these uncertain times. Click here to download our free guide: Excellence in Uncertainty.

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