Building a Foundation of Open Communication

“Larry, I think you’re on mute. Did we lose him? Larry, we can’t hear you…” These familiar sounding phrases, for many of us, are a part the new world of working remotely. Over the last few months, after hopping on what seems like countless video conferences, we adapt technologies to weather the challenges of keeping a team connected and moving effectively.

Pivoting from working in an office to suddenly working from home, was something our Senior Project Manager, Vinnie Mattivi, quickly realized might not totally go according to his typically carefully laid plans.

“I had initially created a great, quiet office for myself in our basement. But then found myself moving to a temporary office in my son’s bedroom for video conference meetings, to get a more stable Wi-Fi signal. We all had to make adjustments as a family and a company that were unfamiliar and uncomfortable. In the end, we made it work! We are coming out on the other side of the early stages of this pandemic stronger and more agile as a result”

We attribute part of Nunn’s success during this pandemic in holding true to our value of Communication: Be clear, concise, positive, and proactive in what you say and do. While through working remotely, we have missed interacting with each other in person, but had already built a strong foundation of communication and mentorship for our entire staff and teams. This has made a huge difference in our ability to keep working efficiently.

Vinnie and senior staff host daily project teams meetings – to discuss progress, challenges, and concerns. We all stayed connected as a company by increasing frequency of our full-staff meetings to weekly, and focusing our dialogue on COVID-19 related issues and delays, while sharing project updates and challenges. Everyone in the company was able to quickly learn from each other’s experience. This helps to anticipate trade partners’ delays, labor pool shortages, or material delays.

Our Senior Operations team met frequently to develop and adjust COVID-19 related protocols and communications throughout our organization. Having input from all departments helped Nunn have a quick and agile response to the rapidly changing directives from the federal and state governments.

Nunn has always had a focus on idea sharing and innovation, which attracts and retains top talent. Due to the social distancing and 10-person meeting limit, we had to drastically reinvent our main jobsite scheduling exercise of “Pull-planning.” It’s a critical process we use with our sub-contracting trade partners to get buy-in for scheduling and tracking activities, but it’s normally done in a big collaborative in-person meeting.

The idea of using a web-based whiteboard technology came forward. Within a week, one senior team put a test-run into practice, developing the processes and ensuring the resources to successfully implement the transition to Virtual Pull-Planning for each jobsite. Now, all our teams are using it and the switch has been highly successful at capturing the same results as the in-person meetings.

Teamwork is another key value at Nunn Construction. To us, it is not top-down. It means: Utilizing the expertise of the whole, and helping those around you to succeed. Vinnie came to work for Nunn right out of college at CSU-Pueblo as a Project Engineer, from day one, he was invited and encouraged to bring ideas, challenges and questions to his team.

“I’ve never felt like I was on an island, not listened to, or incapable for not knowing what to do in a situation. Every time I brought an idea or challenge to leadership, I’m grateful it was always met with curiosity and used as an opportunity to make me a better project manager.”

Now, eight years later, Vinnie is a Senior Project Manager over-seeing a few different projects including the Ed Robson Arena with Colorado College. He makes sure to pay that same attitude and mentorship approach forward to his team members. As a result, the close relationships that he has already established with his team are paying off in this challenging time of working remotely. These open communication channels help avoid delays and foster speedy problem-solving.

In early March, Nunn had just hired a handful of new Project Engineers and a Junior Estimator. They all spent about a week or two in the office before shifting to work remotely. We knew it would be more difficult to make sure they felt welcome and received the training and supervision they needed to be successful, so we made sure they each had a dedicated mentor and consistent communication with their teams so they could be successful in those stressful first few months of starting a new job, and for some of them a new career.

Nunn also values having a Growth Mindset: Continually educating ourselves, and implementing better ways to build and do business. Though we’ve had to adapt more quickly than anyone was used to – we are confident that we are coming out as a stronger team and company. Our culture is without a doubt a major part of why we’ve been so successful at keeping our jobsites moving forward, and how we continue to make a difference for our community with Projects That Matter.

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