3 Steps to Building a Better Relationship – Step One

Per our previous blog post on The Top 5 Reasons the Construction Management Field Makes for a More Well-Rounded Person, we discussed that we don’t build buildings, we build relationships. But in the age of technology, where more communication happens behind a screen rather than in person, how are those relationships built? We recently discussed some of our techniques in The Dellbrook | JKS Management Program and thought we would share in this 3-part series.

Step One: Figure out an individual’s communication style and motivations.

In personal and professional relationships, many of the struggles reside in wanting the other person to communicate in ways YOU understand; to communicate the way YOU would communicate. To complete tasks the way you would want them to be completed. How to handle a client, how to respond to an e-mail, how to clean the dishes, etc. As managers, we often mentor rather than coach, and we share OUR practices as THE practices, rather than allowing people to come up with their own.

How can we change this? By becoming more self-aware.

In the management program, our employees completed DISC profiles (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) to get a full picture of their characteristics.

Why? We want our employees to understand their strengths, their values and their limitations.

So how can we utilize this to build relationships? Once you have an understanding to the different styles and types of people there are (which can happen within about 2 minutes of meeting a person) you can utilize this information and flex the way you communicate to accommodate that individual’s style.

Is the person a perfectionist? Then stick to business and provide accurate detailed information.

Dealing with a more chatty, enthusiastic individual? Provide a warm and friendly environment and find out how life has been going for a few minutes rather than just jumping right into business.

Now that you have had a chance to guess at whether this individual is a D, I, S, or C what should you talk about? How should you phrase your conversations?

Let’s create a situation.

Renee, a peer of yours, has been trying to get to know the owner of the condo project she is working on.  Renee is constantly complaining that she can’t work with the owner. Renee says “I try and connect with him at a personal level and it gets me nowhere.” Recently the owner yelled at Renee for the recent schedule delays that have been occurring on the project. Renee says “I email him the change orders and schedule impacts but he never gets back to me. I bring it up in our meetings but he just gets defensive. I’m not sure what the next step should be.”

In construction, these situations can happen all the time. It’s important to remember that people’s intentions are usually in the right place. If Renee had an understanding of DISC and the owner’s communication style, she would have changed a few things about her communication. Here is what we would recommend.

  1. This owner is more than likely a High D based on the information above (High D individuals tend to be ambitious, forceful, decisive, strong-willed and independent)
  2. For Renee to connect with the owner she needed to:
    1. Be clear, specific, brief and to the point
    2. Stick to business
    3. Be prepared with support material in a well-organized “package”
    4. She needed to connect with him on more occasions rather than just to deliver bad news
    5. Lastly – CALL rather than E-MAIL right away when an issue arises.

What’s the moral here? Relationships are the bread and butter of our industry. We build relationships with owners, with subcontractors and with architects. Each of these people are very different from one another. They have different characteristics, beliefs, and needs. It is our job to be flexible, respectful and understanding to each. Relationships aren’t built overnight. So take the time the get to know their style and utilize it to the benefit of both parties.  Flexing your style can provide more effective communications, increased results and strong, well-built relationships.

If you are interested in completing your DISC profile, check out Data Dome!