8 Mistakes Construction Managers Make and How to Improve Them

Construction Manager on the Job

8 Mistakes Construction Managers Make and How to Improve Them

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Common Mistakes Construction Managers Make


We know how difficult a job construction management is. That’s why we want to help you out with some tips for avoiding and fixing some of the potential mistakes construction managers can make. It’s about making sure you feel confident doing your job and are able to get consistent positive results. Here are some simpler mistakes to keep in mind, as well as some more difficult ones.


Easy-to-fix construction management mistakes


1) Ineffective Communication

Communication is the foundation of any construction project. There are so many moving parts of these projects that things can easily get lost or misunderstood.


Improve communication on construction projects by establishing a communication process, such as daily, weekly, and monthly check-ins, tracking projects clearly (ideally with a software built to do this), and preparing feedback guidelines. Above all, be clear and honest with your clients, stakeholders, and workers and follow the procedures.


2) Unclear Requirements

There is nothing more crushing than doing a lot of work and finding out afterwards that it wasn’t what the client wanted. Not only is it frustrating and costly, but it can lose you your contract.


You avoid this by listening to all construction requirements at the very beginning of the project and confirming requirements with everyone involved in the project. If something changes later on, then that’s a whole other issue.


3) Skipping Initiation

Project initiation can look different for different kinds of construction. Regardless of what fits best for your project, it’s a good idea to communicate to everyone (clients, providers, and workers) the appropriate details, which can include:

Progress Measurement


4) Micromanaging

Of course it’s up to you to know what your providers and workers are capable of and what they need extra monitoring with. However, and this goes for any manager, you will burn yourself out if you try to do everything. Additionally, micromanaging causes your workers and providers to get frustrated. Once employees feel like they aren’t trusted, they are often less inclined to prove themselves, while employees who feel ownership of a project are more likely to work for the good of the project.


Ideally, you have hired the right people- people who you can trust. After that, you have to let them do what they’re supposed to do, provide support when needed, and check-ins according to your plan. If your people aren’t doing what they are supposed to do, then you need to either help them improve or rethink your hiring choices.


Two construction managers looking at plans


Trickier construction management mistakes

5) Unprepared for Problems

Of all the mistakes construction managers make, the mistakes themselves are sometimes the trickiest. No matter how well you prepare, things don’t always go according to plan. It’s unavoidable.


However, good construction managers will have anticipated some of the more common issues that can arise and planned for them. We suggest creating a list of reasonable potential problems and barriers. Once you have the list, you can create a plan for dealing with them if they come up. Have in mind how to deal with problems in general, in case something outside the expected comes up, as well.


6) Poor Hiring Choices

Hiring is usually something that improves with experience. Experienced managers will have more instinct into the right fit for their team, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for years of experience before you can improve your hiring process.


A lot of hiring comes down to asking the right questions:

Can they do the job?
Are they a good fit for the team?
Do they share my values and priorities?


7) Inaccurate Time/Budget Estimation

Here’s another mistake that experience often, but not always, improves. Basically, if you are unfamiliar with a certain kind of construction project, then get expert advice when estimating time and budget. Use a bottom-up approach. And last, but not least, ditch your ego and admit as soon as you realize you’ve underestimated. The consequences will be what they will be, but things are so much worse if you try to hide it.


8) Project Scope Mismanagement

Project scope, AKA what exactly needs to be done for your specific contract, is something that you establish from the very beginning of the bidding process. In an ideal project, you won’t stray from that agreed-upon scope.


As any construction manager who has ever worked before knows, projects rarely go exactly according to plan. Clients make requests to change scope all of the time. To avoid the slippery slope of bending backwards every time a client makes a change to the project, we suggest you establish a clear process for managing requests and changes. This way, you can evaluate each change, decide if it implies a change in cost, and know when to say no.


Construction Managers Set the Tone for the Project


The construction manager coordinates and supervises the project, including everything that this entails, from budgets, to work orders, to scheduling, to inspections. It’s a lot of work and responsibility. To a certain extent, the construction manager decides the quality of the entire project- more than almost any other factor. They’re the leader. When a project has a solid leader, it will be more successful.


The best leaders know that they can always improve something. They’re always learning from experts and listening to adapting trends. There are always mistakes construction managers make, but they are learning from those as well.


What other tips would you give struggling or new construction managers? Feel free to add in the comments.

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