Roofing Contractorcaught up with Jim Worden from Jim Worden Associates before his presentation to get his insights on the importance of clear communication and tips to ensure effective communication in a business setting.


Roofing Contractor:Why is clear and simple business communication important?

Jim Worden: Because it will save your business time, money and — just maybe — your reputation. Clear and simple communication is critical to answering the three questions people have when something goes wrong: (1) What happened? (2) What are you doing to fix it? (3) What are you doing to keep it from happening again?


RC:Construction projects are notoriously difficult and often involve multiple people from different companies. What are some ways to deliver your message clearly in that environment?

JW: First, get a list of key contacts and their responsibilities with each company and advise them of who the key contacts are with your company. Next, make sure the right people know the right people to communicate with to avoid confusion when, not if, questions and problems arise. It’s good to lay out up front the “When’s” of communication: When do you send an e-mail, text or tweet? When do you call? When do you meet face-to-face? When communicating in any situation it’s good to keep these five ideas in mind: (1) Be brief. (2) Have three key points. (3) Use simple language. (4) Explain “‘what’s in it for them.” (5) Anticipate difficult questions and respond to them from a “win-win” point of view. Children and coworkers don’t like to be told to do something “because I said so.” By the way, if you’ve trained a good crew leader they can easily be trained to be a good communicator — and save you time, money and your reputation.


RC:Do you have any tips for handling communication when problems arise?

JW: The most serious problem that can arise on a construction jobsite is a serious injury or fatality. Make sure your people know who their leader on the job is. That person needs to be prepared to do three things in an emergency: (1) Make sure your people are safe. (2) Make sure the jobsite is secure. (3) Call a pre-designated person for help.

If confronted with a media inquiry the spokesperson needs to respond based on these guidelines: (1) Be brief. (2) Have three key points. (3) Use simple language. (4) Don’t speculate. (5) Anticipate difficult questions. Have a crisis plan that includes your key positive messages about your company. This is the time when you’ll be glad if you have a communication professional you can call for help.


RC: What are some communication tips that businesses should follow?

 JW: As an advocate of effective issue management I keep these three rules in mind: (1) A resolved issue is an asset to a company. An unresolved issue is a liability. (2) It’s too late to look for the answer after the question is asked. (3) If we can’t explain it simply, we don’t understand it well enough. If leaders keep these three rules in mind in their daily communications they will save time, save money and build their reputation.