Workplace Relationship Building: Construction-Style
Relationship building is definitely not easy. Well, what if your work environment changed every single day?
By Clare Christensen on Jan 28, 2016
Updated Oct 15, 2021

Most people would tell you (and we would agree) it takes time to build trust with coworkers. Having a trustworthy relationship with your team can make the overall work environment much more pleasant. Relationship building is definitely not easy. Well, what if your work environment changed every single day? That is just the case for general contractors. Rather than having the same coworkers in an office daily, every job site you work on features different subcontractors and consultants daily.

So, how do you maintain trusting relationships with people who come in and out of your work life at an inconsistent basis? And, how do you keep your job sites productive and engaging for all parties (owners, subcontractors, designers/architects)? Project Manager Zach Smith and Superintendent Steve Jessop gave us these tips:


  • Be Transparent: Owners need to feel like they know what you’re doing and that you are being up-front with them. They are the ones who have the most invested in the job, so if they feel like they are a part of the team, it makes the whole process flow smoothly.
  • Understand: Everyone has a vision for how a facility should be built, but ultimately the owner’s needs come first. Be sure to take the time to communicate regularly with owners to ensure their needs are being understood from start to finish.
  • Listen – Owners look to you as the expert. They ask questions and expect you to answer them. If you make a habit of being available to answer any and all questions, owners will feel much more at ease throughout the whole process.


  • Respect Schedules: Everyone’s time is precious and in many cases limited. Respecting the time of each subcontractor’s schedules is key to maintaining the flow of a project and keeping the peace across any job site. Knowing that you value their time will create productive relationships with industry partners.
  • Help them Succeed: Subcontractors are there to help general contractors achieve the goal of a finished facility, but ensuring subcontractors’ success is vital. If subcontractors have requests/needs that will help move the project forward, it’s important to accommodate their needs, as possible, to support the partnership you have with them.


  • Collaborate: Although each of you each has your own separate skill sets, make those skill sets work in conjunction with each other from the beginning. This will prevent situations where the architect’s concept is not designed in a way that can be logically constructed.
  • Keep Design Intent: Unexpected things can always come up in a job. You may have budget changes or materials that don’t meet your schedule constraints. For a designer/architect, it can be frustrating seeing your original design unfold in ways that you didn’t intend from the beginning. As a general contractor, it’s important to do whatever you can to keep maintain the architect’s vision and work as a team throughout the project.