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Project Management
7 min read

How to Work Effectively With Everyone On a Construction Project Team

Crewcost Team
Published Apr 1, 2024

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are construction projects. To bring something from blueprint to reality takes the collective effort and expertise of a wide range of professionals, from project managers to estimators and more. Of course, any time you bring a group of people with different responsibilities, concerns, and goals together, there’s the potential for conflict. Just because you’re all working on the same job doesn’t mean it’s easy to work together. In our experience though, taking the time to understand all the multifaceted roles within a construction project team makes effective collaboration much easier.

At the end of the day, good collaboration isn’t just about working well together, it’s about executing projects successfully and on budget. In this guide to construction project teams, we’ll break down the roles and responsibilities of the people you’ll work with most closely as GC, along with tips on building strong relationships with each one.

Key Takeaways

  • As a general contractor, you can’t achieve project profitability and stakeholder satisfaction alone. Successful construction projects are a team effort between a variety of different construction professionals.
  • The foundation of any good working relationship is consistent, clear communication.
  • While it can be intimidating to hand over the reins, empowering construction project team members with autonomy over decision-making can streamline processes and prevent project delays.

The Project Manager

Project Managers stand at the helm of the entire project, steering it from beginning to completion. They’re responsible for planning, executing, and closing projects, and making sure builds are completed on time, within budget, and to the specified quality standards. PMs serve as the primary point of contact for all stakeholders, coordinating between the project owner, subcontractors, and the project team. Their duties encompass project planning, resource allocation, project schedule management, financial management, and risk assessment.

Effective communication and problem-solving are at the core of what drives a PM. With these skills, they can navigate all the complexities and challenges that inevitably arise during a project’s lifecycle.

Because of how integral their role is in project success, General Contractors need to foster a strong, collaborative relationship with PMs. Here’s how:

Clear communication: Construction project management tools, along with regular, structured meetings can help keep all parties updated on progress, changes, and challenges. Consistent communications can also flag when PMs may need extra support, manpower, or info to address a project’s needs.

Collaborative goal-setting: Aligning on overall project goals, quality standards, and financial targets early on can help prevent misunderstandings and set builds up for success.

Empowering agency: Giving PMs the authority to make decisions within defined limits can streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and help them feel a greater sense of ownership over the success of the project.

Facilitating risk management: Collaborating on risk identification, assessment, and mitigation strategies can help minimize potential setbacks and ensure project continuity.

The Assistant Project Manager

As the name implies, Assistant Project Managers help shoulder the Project Manager’s multifaceted responsibilities. APMs assist in coordinating project tasks, facilitating communication among team members, and ensuring that project documentation is accurately maintained and up-to-date. They act as a critical link in the communication chain, ensuring that information flows seamlessly from the project management team to the on-site personnel and vice versa.

As a General Contractor, you can help Assistant Project Managers gain valuable experience and growth by:

Delegating responsibility: Assigning specific, meaningful responsibilities to APMs allows them to gain hands-on experience (and demonstrates your trust in their capabilities).

Providing mentorship and support: Encourage Project Managers to mentor APMs, offering guidance and feedback that will foster their long-term professional development. It’s also a great idea to give APMs a leg-up in pursuing additional training or certifications.

Fostering a collaborative environment: Create opportunities for APMs to work closely with other project team members. By ‘shadowing’ other construction project team members, they can gain a better understanding of the different facets of construction management.

Let them lead in tech: Most APMs are pretty tech-savvy. Letting them lead the way in incorporating new technologies and processes can demonstrate your trust and make measurable gains in project efficiency.

The Superintendent

The Superintendent, often seen as the eyes and ears of a construction project on the ground, plays a crucial role in translating construction plans into reality. They are the technical subject matter experts and oversee day-to-day operations on the construction site, ensuring that construction activities proceed according to the project plan, specifications, and safety standards. Superintendents manage the workforce, materials, and equipment, all while serving as the primary communication link between the construction site and the project management team.

Because Superintendents are concerned with the efficiency and safety of site operations, they often feel a deep sense of ownership over a project’s progress. While this can be a good thing, it can also strain relationships, especially if you and the Superintendent don’t see eye-to-eye.

If you want to build a good relationship here, you’ll have to get comfortable letting go of the reins. Here are a few tangible ways you can start to do just that:

Support their autonomy in decision-making: You have to trust your Superintendent. By giving them the autonomy they need to make immediate on-site decisions, you can prevent delays and keep workflows running for everyone.

Empower with information: Providing comprehensive project details, plans, and updates ensures Superintendents have all the information they need to make informed decisions on-site. What’s more, establishing an open line of communication encourages Superintendents to share insights and concerns, allowing both parties to proactively address potential issues.

Invest in training and safety: Supporting continuous training, especially in safety and technology, equips Superintendents with the latest knowledge and tools to manage the construction site effectively.

Recognize and address challenges: The more you understand the logistical and operational challenges Superintendents face, the more you both can work together to address them before they escalate.

The Project Engineer

Project Engineers bridge the gap between engineering design and physical construction. They’re responsible for technical oversight of the project, ensuring engineering designs are accurately implemented according to specifications and building codes. They also coordinate design revisions, construction methods, and materials procurement.

Project engineers are mainly concerned with the technical integrity and quality of the construction project. To leverage their expertise effectively, consider these strategies:

Involve them from the start: Get Project Engineers in the room early on in the planning and design phases to benefit from their technical insight. With their sharp eye, they can potentially identify flaws in the design or areas for improvement.

Facilitate collaboration: Encourage collaboration between Project Engineers, architects, and subcontractors, to ensure technical challenges are addressed collaboratively and efficiently. Also make sure Project Engineers have access to the latest drawings, specifications, and project changes to maintain accuracy in construction activities.

Value their input: PE’s are uniquely equipped to make sound technical decisions, especially when it comes to design changes or material selection. Make sure their voice can be heard.

The Foreman

A project Foreman acts as the linchpin between construction management and the on-site workforce, directly overseeing the day-to-day operations of the construction crews. With a deep understanding of construction methods and practices, the Foreman ensures tasks are completed efficiently, safely, and to required quality standards. Their responsibilities include scheduling work, supervising crew members, enforcing safety protocols, coordinating with subcontractors, managing the use of equipment and materials, and quality control.

Productivity and safety are the two biggest concerns of Foremen. They take pride in efficiently managing their team to meet or exceed project expectations, and often thrive when faced with problem-solving and conflict resolution. To optimize your relationship with Foremen and, by extension, the entire on-site team, make a point to:

Communicate plainly: Provide Foremen with clear, detailed instructions and updates so they can effectively manage their teams and tasks.

Recognize their decision-making authority: Since Foremen are the eyes and ears on the construction site, allowing them some autonomy in on-the-spot decision making can improve efficiency and crew morale.

Provide training programs and resources: Investing in regular training programs helps Foremen stay updated on the latest construction techniques, safety standards, and leadership skills. What’s more, giving them access to the necessary tools, materials, and support staff empowers them to keep projects moving smoothly.

Respect their work: Recognizing the hard work and contributions of Foremen and their teams can also go a long way in boosting morale.

Encourage feedback: Inviting Foremen to share insights and suggestions for improving project execution can uncover valuable opportunities for efficiency gains and innovation.

The Safety Manager

Safety Managers are the guardians of health and safety on a construction site, dedicated to preventing workplace accidents and ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal safety regulations. Their responsibilities include developing and implementing safety policies, conducting risk assessments, training employees on safety practices and emergency procedures, and conducting regular construction site inspections. 

Put simply, Safety Managers are focused on creating and maintaining a safe work environment for everyone. Because of their attention to detail and regulations, they can sometimes butt heads with stakeholders who want to keep projects moving forward.

General Contractors can support Safety Managers and their important work by:

Prioritizing safety as a core value: Demonstrate that safety is a top priority for the project by integrating it into every aspect of the construction process. For example, making safety briefings and checks a part of daily work routines will reinforce the importance of safety and compliance.

Allocating adequate resources: Make sure Safety Managers have the equipment, training materials, and technology to implement safety measures effectively.

Encouraging active participation: Work to build an environment where all team members feel responsible for safety and are encouraged to voice concerns and suggestions. Make a point to recognize and reward exemplary safety practices among team members.

The Quality Manager

Quality Managers are critical in ensuring that construction projects meet both the client's specifications and industry standards of excellence. Their role involves developing, implementing, and overseeing the quality management system for the project. This includes setting quality objectives, conducting inspections and audits, managing non-conformities, and facilitating continuous improvement processes.

Quality Managers work closely with every member of the construction project team, from engineers and architects to subcontractors. Their role allows them to collaborate with everyone to ensure excellent end products are delivered. As a General Contractor, you can reinforce collaboration with Quality Managers by:

Integrating quality planning from the start: Involving the Quality Manager in the early stages of project planning establishes quality objectives and standards that align with project goals. By fostering a culture of quality from the start, quality becomes everyone’s responsibility.

Ensuring team collaboration and communication: Maintaining clear lines of communication between the Quality Manager and all project stakeholders will swiftly address quality issues as they arise. On the crew side, encouraging collaborative problem-solving will help team members meet quality challenges and improve processes.

Recognizing and acting on feedback: Take corrective (and timely) action based on quality audits and inspections to continuously improve project outcomes.

Valuing continuous improvement: Supporting initiatives for continuous improvement that the Quality Manager identifies through lessons learned and post-project reviews.

The Estimator

Estimators play a crucial role in the financial planning and bidding process of construction projects. Their primary responsibility is to accurately forecast the costs associated with a project, including materials, labor, equipment, and any other expenses that might be incurred. This involves detailed analysis of project plans, specifications, and schedules to prepare comprehensive cost estimates that serve as the foundation for project budgets and bids.

Estimators are deeply concerned with accuracy and reliability. To help them be able to do their job well, General Contractors can:

Provide complete and detailed information: Estimators need to have access to all relevant project documentation, including plans, specifications, and any known constraints or challenges.

Invest in estimation technology: Empower them to choose and make use of construction estimation software and tools that can improve the accuracy and efficiency of cost calculations.

Value their input: Consult Estimators in decisions related to project scope, materials selection, and methods of construction that could impact project costs.

Work to refine processes: Regularly review estimation processes and outcomes to identify areas for improvement, adjusting practices based on lessons learned from completed projects.

Last Thoughts

As the saying goes, we’re better when we work together. As a general contractor in the construction industry, understanding what your team members do and why is foundational to good project management, both on and off the job site. By maximizing their expertise and bringing everyone’s voice to the table, you can turn any project team into a well-oiled machine.

Crewcost Team

The CrewCost Team consists of men and women who have worked in the construction industry as project managers, general contractors, sub contractors and more. They share their decades of experience on our blog as a way to help other contractors grow healthier and more profitable businesses.

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