In this day of iPhones, DROIDS, and Blackberries, the construction industry has to deal with new forms of communication.  Since we live in world of mobile devices and technology, you have to assume that everyone else is on the same mobile playing field and are working on-the-go.  What does that mean?

It means that as a construction executive, management member or project level player, you are being pulled in all directions.  On some days, you may be in the office, while other days you may be onsite, and even other days you are traveling across the country.  Given your on-the-go status, it helps when people know how to reach you and how to communicate effectively.

One area where you can improve your communication skills is to make sure you actually explain what is attached to the email because it may be read on a mobile device.  In other words, when sending an attachment, you should do the following:

  • Do not use "FYI" … This assumes that the recipient knows what the email string involves and what has transpired prior to this particular email.  You don’t have to write a novel about the attachment, but include more than an "FYI."
  • Explain what the attachment is … "Attached is a copy of the draft change order language  from ABC Development Co. on the USA Zoo project."  Since many construction contracts are lengthy and legal pleadings are voluminous, it is often impossible to download the full attachment and actually read it on a mobile device. 
  • State whether the matter is urgent or whether you need a response … The owner will be out of town for a week so we do not need to respond immediately.  Again, if the attachment is a letter from the opposing party that requires an immediate response, then you should say so in the email. Don’t assume that your recipient can or has read the attachment.

You may think these tips are no-brainers, but they have changed the way I communicate with my clients over the last year.  For example, I previously sent the "Please see attached" emails to my clients without even thinking that the email was sent to a Blackberry or iPhone (…even though I carry my phone everywhere and expect the same communication from my assistant …)  Thanks to some lessons learned, I am taking the extra minute to explain my attachments and include a response line.

Question: Do you have any tips for communicating in the digital age?