One of the primary skills needed to be successful in the construction industry is crisis management. It applies to owners, project superintendents, design engineers, subcontractors, architects, PMs and all employees working in the field. Today’s projects can all be challenging, especially with many moving parts involved. And no matter how good everybody is doing their job or how great the plans might be, there’s always a curveball to look out for.
From a construction point of view, project plans usually don’t work out in most cases, considering the pressure of local building department requirements and other related factors. As a result, some project-stopping issues and problems like this should be resolved right away to keep the project on schedule. The ability to manage such issues and solve such issues is significantly vital to the overall success of all parties involved.
There are many types of crises resulting from different circumstances and events, like existential crises and business crises. The latter is what we’re going to cover in this article. We’re defining a real crisis in the construction business and some helpful tips in dealing and handling it properly.
So, what defines a “CRISIS”?
There are three basic elements common to most construction business crisis:
- The magnitude of threat toward the organization
- The element of surprise
- A short timeframe wherein actions should be taken.
For these reasons, therefore, crisis management must be proactive rather than a reactive activity. There’s an element of trying to plan for the unknown here, yet having the procedures in place to deal and solve any unforeseen crisis will eventually improve anyone’s ability to respond constructively.
The Crisis Management Process in Construction
The crisis management process encompasses much more than dealing and managing the crisis itself –yet that’s arguably the most important part. Let’s unpack the initial steps in the crisis management process so that your crisis leaders and especially your team can be best prepared.
The very first part of crisis management is to prevent any possible crises. It involves creating a crisis management plan, forming and training your crisis management team, and conducting training/practice exercises to implement the plan.
2. Crisis Management and Response
The second step is most likely what everyone considers when they think of crisis management – the actual process of dealing with and responding to various stages of the crisis. This particular stage is when the crisis management plan is already put into action.
When a specific crisis subsides or passes, the crisis management work isn’t finished yet. It’s crucial that you remain in contact with all of your employees, stakeholders, and clients and remain available to answer all of the questions. It’s also a best practice to distribute proactive updates to the parties involved.
Finally, work and plan together with your crisis management team to analyze and further review your crisis management plan. How did the strategy played out during a real occurring crisis? Did your target audience still have questions to follow? Are there any concerns that you have missed to answer?
Integrate all lessons you have learned from that experience into your crisis management process for your future planning.
What to do Before Crisis Strikes?
The best crisis strategies are proactive, not reactive, simply because you don’t have a crystal ball. That is why you never know when a disaster is coming your way. Be sure to plan ahead, so you’re prepared and always ready, whether it happens tomorrow, in the next two years, or (with luck) it never comes at all.
1. Assemble a crisis management dream team
There are essential things that require more professionalism. Everyone on the team plays a crucial and significant role in the company’s success. So, who are the ones that get to count as a dedicated member? Start thinking key people like marketing personnel, public relations, legal counsel, and CEO. Together, you can create a strategic plan of action that defines specific responsibilities and assigns one key spokesperson.
2. Train the team
The best way to prevent risks is to determine them before they even occur, then train your members to avoid these risks further. All crew members must be aware of health, safety, and environmental protocols. It is necessary that each team member know what to do next in the chance that something might go wrong. As the leader, take a step further and make sure to implement construction crew management to better supervise and track your team.
3. Know what to say and how you’re going to say it
Communicate, communicate and always communicate with everybody. That’s the key to make it through the crisis. Firstly, you want to define how you’re going to share that an incident has occurred with subs and other employees, whether through email, phone calls, text, or through team management software like Pro Crew Schedule. This specialized software tool serves as a central hub, an all-in-one platform for all the members where everyone can share project details and post updates.
What to do in the Midst of Crisis?
The day has come; now it is the time to act and assemble your crisis management plan. Taking charge immediately can be the significant difference between success and failure.
1. Control the message
Never wait for things to get worst and blow over. Instead, control everything alongside your team. First, the message must be pre-prepared and finalized with accurate details of any issues to share internally and externally.
Statements sent to primary stakeholders and posts can be made on social media platforms for the greater community. You may want to keep the target audience specific and choose to highlight your company’s safety measures to prevent such incidences from happening. Note that, transparency must be bear in mind above all else.
2. Don’t leave them guessing
Any type of crisis bring in tons of questions. Expect there will be numerous questions from the internal team, clients, even media and more. Having smart crisis management often leaves little space for wondering, which only means answering as many questions as possible. Ensure to monitor coverage right after initial conversation and respond quickly. Doing so will give you a much better chance at keeping control of what is happening.
3. Record what went wrong
Proper documentation is ultimately good more than just crafting the most detailed message. Also, it reduces any chances of an emergency occurring. Make sure to note the date, time and work that has been done, including the employees who were present and the safety measures being taken. Documents also how the situation was being handled. The more details you gather, the better.
Some other Helpful Tips You Can Apply
Here are some do’s and don’ts whenever there’s a crisis.
- Do have a nominated pyramid of spokesmen. It’s best not to expect your MD or CEO to be there always and best positioned to respond or give comments. You have to assign not just one person but also a list of people who can release statements and speak on behalf of everyone.
- Do have a crisis management plan. It’s absolutely no good waiting for a crisis before you can start planning. As what being said earlier, a crisis management plan must be proactive rather than reactive.
- Do have an action plan. Handling and managing internal perceptions of the crisis is equally critical as your external plans. Manage the risks by preparing the internal communication plan in order to match your external responses.
- Do respond quickly. In some instances, a slow response is considered as no response at all. Thus, having a series of holding statements being prepared is necessary. In this way, you can always control what is happening and not easily give in to the situation in hand.
- Don’t fabricate, and speculate. Things may look questionable.
- Don’t accept more responsibility than is suitable. There’s often the need to apologize for third-party supplier issues, but accepting responsibility for this sort of crisis can be unnecessary. Instead, you need to focus on the positive and determine how you will not impact your clients or product quality.
- Don’t respond to any third-party questions. Be always clear on your part in the crisis response. For instance, never answer questions on behalf of your suppliers.
Prepare your Construction Business for Crises and Invest in Construction Scheduling Software
What can you do to put your company and your employees in the best position during a crisis? Ensuring that your construction business is prepared for any possible crises allows you to establish and maintain a positive reputation with your customers as well as to your employees. Right, wrong, or indifferent, you may have invested so much time and money into project planning and crisis management without considering the use of subcontractor scheduling software like Pro Crew Schedule.
Pro Crew Schedule is the best scheduling software of your choice. It enables you to manage multiple projects in an integrated manner despite an occurring crisis. This specific functionality is crucial since each project has different interdependencies. Any changes may impact the other.
Here are some of the amazing features Pro Crew Schedule offers:
- Project scheduling and time management
- Resource allocation
- Tracking projects more effectively
- Real-time team collaboration
- Document control and sharing
- Cloud and mobile access
- Easier integration of new members
- Cloud-based storage
You can get a 30-day trial for FREE. Click here to request a LIVE DEMO.
Crisis can occur either suddenly or periodically. Construction companies that can significantly manage a crisis know how to estimate them ahead of time and determine them by their category/types. Comb through your crisis management plan to see what went right and what went wrong to decide how things could have been dealt with better.