3 Reasons Communication Fails in Construction

miscommunication construction

Managing construction projects can sometimes feel like you’re playing a broken game of telephone.  

You start off by relaying a message to your team, but there’s no guarantee folks will receive, understand, and interpret the message the way you intended. People can have conflicting data, misunderstand your message, or don’t receive it at all.  

Sometimes, this leads to some interesting mishaps. For example, here's a story of a person getting their car stuck in wet concrete because they missed the (several) construction signs displayed on-site.  

Misunderstandings like this are not uncommon within construction, and you may have seen your fair share of them. That’s why if you have your own story, we’d love to hear it


You might also find more inspiration in our recent video 

That being said, while certain misunderstandings can lead to funny situations, these mistakes also result in huge losses. That’s why it’s important to prevent them from happening in the first place. 

To help you do that, we’ll be going over the top reasons behind communication mishaps in construction. 

1: Bad data

Working with flawed data inevitably leads to poor communication and decision-making. You can’t expect to relay accurate information when the source of that intel is incomplete, incorrect, or outdated.  

Research shows that bad data is one of the biggest culprits behind costly issues in construction projects. Our study with FMI found that one-third of poor decisions were made as a result of bad data, and those decisions can cost contractors up to $165 million.  

How to fix the issue of bad data 

Adopting a cloud-based construction management platform is the best way to avoid bad data. 

It’s easier to stay on the same page when stakeholders have access to a solution that houses all project information. Users can find the necessary data in one place, which leaves little room for errors and miscommunication. Plus, cloud-based platforms keep data updated in real-time so teams can view the latest information from anywhere. 

2: Disconnected processes and workflows

Construction projects go through several phases, and each stage has its own sets of workflows and procedures. Communication issues often arise when these processes are disjointed and inefficient.  

For instance, if your field and office teams aren’t tightly connected, information is more likely to slip through the cracks. It’s all too easy for collaborators to miss important messages or receive outdated info.  

Problems with disconnected workflows also come up when using multiple applications that don’t “talk” to each other. When your systems aren’t integrated, folks resort to manual data entry, ultimately opening up room for mistakes. 

Unfortunately, this practice is quite prevalent in the industry; research shows 53% of construction teams are manually transferring information between apps that don't integrate.  

How to fix disconnected processes and workflows 

You can address this issue with the use of unified platform solutions that keep workflows, apps, and stakeholders in sync. Doing so ensures information flows smoothly across various platforms and teams, which reduces mishaps and mistakes.  

You can rest easy knowing that all stakeholders are kept in the loop. Plus, teams save time from having to manually re-enter or resend information to other team members. 

3: Lack of transparency

In psychology, there’s a logical fallacy called “signal amplification bias.” This is a tendency of some people to assume that something is obvious, and therefore doesn’t have to be explained.  

Folks who have signal amplification bias often under-communicate because they overestimate other people’s knowledge about a certain matter.  

For example, a team member may decide not to send a meeting reminder because they’re assuming everyone remembers key dates. Or, a construction worker may choose to not verbally inform someone about the wet concrete because there are seemingly “obvious” signs already posted on-site.  

How to address the lack of transparency 

The first step to addressing this issue is recognizing you may have signal amplification bias. Identify instances in which you assume that something is obvious, and make it a point to deliver clear explanations and instructions.  

Beyond that, it also helps to adopt tools that promote better visibility of project information. Again, having a cloud-based and centralized solution is ideal, because it makes information more accessible to the right people.  

Solutions that streamline tasks like sending reminders and taking meeting minutes can also help, because they make it easy to disseminate information to teams.  

Your turn 

We just shared some of the top reasons behind mishaps and miscommunication in construction, and now we’re handing it over to you! Do you have any funny or epic stories involving communication breakdowns in your projects? We’d love to hear them. Tell us about your experiences here.  

With Autodesk Construction Cloud, you can avoid miscommunications and be on the same page at every stage. Learn more.  

Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.