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Unit 7 Improving Managerial Skills within a Construction Environment





7.1 Managing Oneself


7.2 Managing Others


7.3 Communications





Information and Guidance is available from the ‘Student Area’.



Assignment for Unit 7



Learning outcome: On completion the learner will know to communicate with people.



An assignment is being used for this Unit.
Details on how to produce the assignment is included on the form, which you should down-load from the column on the left by clicking on "Assignment for Unit 7" and from the “Submitting Assignment” Page from the “Student Area”.









7.3.1 The Need of Communication

7.3.2 Ways of Communication

7.3.3 Letter Writing

7.3.4 Report Writing

7.3.5 Meetings





There is no recommended book for this section


7.3.1 The Need of Communication

One of the main causes of problems within organisations is poor communications. The reasons for this may be:


  • Perceptual bias by the receiver - only hears what he or she wants to hear.
  • Omission or distortion by the sender - alters the message to suit own purpose(s).
  • Lack of trust - sender will screen information.
  • Emotional overtones - may distort a meaning.
  • Relative status - subordinates may have difficulty in communicating with superiors.
  • Power related - through restricting others to information access.
  • Immediacy - immediate communication over-rides all previous messages.
  • Lack of clarity - what is obvious to the sender may be totally obscure to the recipient.
  • Overload - the recipient may be given too much information at once. This can cause confusion or only partial understanding.
  • Distance - communication may become more difficult as the distance between parties' increases. Direct rather than indirect communication is preferred.


Obstacles to Communication

There are five main barriers to effective interpersonal communication:

1. Fear is the most common reason that interpersonal communication fails; this can take several forms:


  • Being afraid of being made to look a fool
  • Not quite sure of what is required
  • Afraid of 'losing face'
  • Worried about job-security



To deal with this problem managers need to ask themselves how do they perceive themselves as communicators, and how do they think they are perceived by other managers or employees. Being short-tempered, rude or inconsiderate does not assist in interpersonal communication; and can be a very negative factor when dealing with other people. If your manager behaves like this, you probably need to be more assertive in dealing with him or her. But this is often easier said than done. Many organisations support assertiveness training for management staff as part of their personal development. One-day courses are often available through local management training organisations or adult education centres and technical colleges.

2. Vagueness - managers should not assume that everyone understands what they are trying to say or do. They should try to use direct and simple language rather than concentrating on technical terms and acronyms which others may not be entirely familiar with.

The subject should be pitched at the correct level for the recipient, and avoid long words or patronising remarks. Individuals also need to be aware of their body language, and the subtle signals that are sent out to others in their immediate vicinity. Attitude, demeanour, and tone of voice will tell people a lot about the person who is talking.

3. Assumptions - managers should never assume that everyone knows and understands what has been communicated. They should allow and encourage employees to ask questions.

4. Ambiguity - as complexity increases the chances of ambiguity rises. An individual may be quite clear about what he or she has said or written. However, it may still be misunderstood by the recipient. Therefore, if possible, ask someone to look at what has been written to see if they understand it clearly or read it out to them. Often, a subtle change of emphasis can have an unintended negative effect on those who receive the information.

6. Failure to listen - this is very common. All personnel should concentrate on what others say, and not be distracted by other activity or nearby discussions. Avoid saying "I hear what you say" and giving the impression that there is real interest in what is being said, when what is really meant is "OK, you can talk as much as you like but it’s still going to be done my way!"


Improving Communication

Communication can be improved by:


  • Providing information in the best form at the right time to those who need it.
  • Considering the best communication method based on the information being conveyed, (distance being covered and interpretation by recipient).
  • Being concise, avoiding jargon, ensuring recipient understands the message.
  • Ensuring information is only given to those who need it. Avoid expensive random circulation which devalues the importance of the information.
  • Encouraging two way rather than one way communication.
  • Ensure instructions given to subordinates are understood as commands for action, not simply advice for possible use.
  • Do not discourage information flow through informal channels (the 'grapevine').






Task 7.3.1 Barriers to Communication


State the main barriers to communication and the ways that you will overcome these barriers.


Word Guide: 300 – 400



7.3.2 Ways of Communication

Communication is the act of imparting or exchange of information, ideas or feelings. It should be a two way thing and should flow up as well as down. This therefore requires the ability to listen as well as speak. It also involves the ability or organise thoughts and place them in an appropriate medium to convey in order that it is concise, unambiguous and clearly understood.

Communication can fall into two categories:

1. Formal

Formal communication includes all the instances where communication has to occur in a set format. This will include business or corporate communication. The style of communication is formal and official. Formal communication is direct and business like.

2. Informal

Informal communication occurs between friends and family or people on the same level at work. It does not have any rigid rules and guidelines.


Communication as an Interpersonal Skill

Managers are familiar with the top-down communication method, where 'orders come from above, and are carried out below'. However, this is a very rigid system of communication which often is only partially effective.

When organisations grow in size and complexity, and particularly when they are undergoing change several things can happen:


  • People interpret information in different ways. As information passes downwards it can often be distorted by rumour or exaggeration.
  • Some managers and employees see information as power. Those who are insecure, or are very defensive in their behaviour often try to retain information for their own purposes. Therefore, information is not passed to the lowest level and people feel that they are 'left in the dark'.


A position of authority may cloud a managers ability to interpret information "Don't bring me problems, only solutions" is a very naive response to problem solving.


Methods of Communications

Information may be communicated by a number of methods:


  • Written - Memoranda (memos), letters, reports, manuals, drawings.
  • Verbal - Meetings, briefings, presentations, interviews, telephone.
  • Non verbal - By gestures and body language
  • Graphical - drawings, graphs, photographs, videos
  • Electronic - We can put this as a separate method although it will also fall into one of the other categories examples being: Fax, email, tele-conferencing.






Task 7.3.2 Methods of Communication


State the advantages and disadvantages relating to each method of communication.


Word Guide: 200 – 300




7.3.3 Letter Writing

In many instance it is the written word which will give the first impression of a person or company so it is essential that this creates a good impression. Poor grammar and bad spelling will certainly not do that so it is worth ensuring that you are able to write and format any written communication which is appropriate for its purpose. In order to do that you will need to ensure that you have a good understanding of the English language and if that is something which you are not particularly good at it is certainly worth devoting effort in order to improve these skills.



The following should be considered when preparing to write a letter:


  • Presentation
  • Layout
  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Logical wording
  • Sentences and Paragraphs



Letter or Phone call

There will be cases when either a letter or a phone call may be acceptable, in determine the medium to be used the following should be considered:


  • The ease of contact with the person or company you need to communicate with
  • Your relationship with the addressee
  • The complexity of the information
  • The importance of the message
  • Whether or not you or the addressee needs to keep a record of the information
  • How formal you need to be which will reflect the style of your letter.



Advantages of a Letter


  • Not pressurised by the short space of time of a telephone conversation
  • Time to collate information, discuss and plan
  • Time for you and the other person to think about a response
  • Ensure that you have said everything relevant
  • Cost effective by duplication of circulation
  • More effective in legal terms





  • Reaction and Response takes time
  • Two-way immediate discussion not available
  • Less personal than speaking





  • Set out the letter in a way to compliment the Company's headed paper, matching margins to the margins of the letter head.
  • For long letters, use headed paper for the first page and plain continuation sheets thereafter.
  • Always read your letters before signing to ensure they are acceptable.



A letter is made up of the following:


  • Your company name and address - ensure the address for any reply is included if the address is different from the company address.
  • Your Reference - to assist with filing and retrieving.
  • Addressee Reference - if one is quoted in their correspondence, use it.
  • Date
  • Attention Line - if for the attention of a particular person within the company.
  • Addressee - Name, address and post code each on a separate line.
  • Salutation - Dear…
  • Reference Title - directs the reader to the subject of the letter.
  • Ending - Yours …..
  • Signature - if signed on behalf of someone else use pp in front of the signature
  • Name- use upper case for the name of the writer and, on the line below, their position
  • Enclosures - use Enc to draw attention to the fact that enclosures are included.



Types of Letters


  • Intimate – No rules
  • Semi-formal Start Dear Mr Jones - finish Yours sincerely Peter Binns
  • Formal - Start Dear Sir - Finish Yours faithfully P Binns


If you start Dear Sir you finish Yours faithfully

If you start Dear Name you finish Yours sincerely.


Letters should be:


  • Complete - ensure you have covered all that needs to be covered
  • Concise - be brief, don't waffle
  • Clear - use simple, meaningful language, use short sentence, be positive rather than negative language
  • Courteous - don't be aggressive
  • Assertive - the right tone receives the right response and priority



Useful Pointers


  • Decide on: the purpose of the letter, the attitude of the person you're writing to.
  • Keep in mind the character and background of the person/s reading the letter
  • Plan what you are going to include and in what order
  • Consider the details - where, when, why and how
  • Link the points in a logical order
  • Try to arouse interest immediately
  • What response/action do you want from the letter?







Task 7.3.3 Letter Writing


Write a letter to Adam Fool, the managing Director of Fool Hardy Ltd at 17 Dead End Street, Toy Town to request a meeting to discuss the possibility of carrying out the work on the New Office extension that they are proposing to build.


Word Guide: 300 – 400





7.3.4 Report Writing


Presenting the information


  • What does the reader want to know?
  • Has he/she a technical background?
  • Keep it simple, don’t use jargon
  • Use sketches, diagrams, photos
  • Make it well set out and easy to read



Sequence of Production


  • Prepare list of information required
  • Collect information - use sketches/photos
  • Arrange the information
  • Present the information



Arranging the information

Introduce the report:


  • purpose of the report
  • terms of reference
  • methods used
  • be concise
  • Use main and sub headings
  • Number your headings and sub headings
  • Keep facts and conclusions separate
  • Refer to facts when making conclusions
  • Summarise the main points of report





Task 7.3.4 Reports



Produce a list of headings that would be suitable for a report to assess the condition of a house prior to purchasing.


Word Guide: 100 – 200



7.3.5 Meetings

In order to be effective there are a number of considerations we should be aware of when we plan and conduct a meeting. Although it must be born in mind that there are many different types of meeting and informal meetings will not require the formal procedures that some committee meetings need to adhere to.


Arranging Meetings

 Ask yourself:


  • What is the purpose of the meeting?
  • Who needs to be there?
  • Where is it to be held?
  • When is it to be held?
  • How is it to be conducted?



The Agenda

Have an Agenda - making sure that members have an opportunity to include items for discussion. Give everyone copies in advance - or at least make sure that the agenda is clearly displayed for everyone to see.


Agenda Content


  • Apologies
  • Minutes of the last meeting
  • Matters arising
  • Items to be discussed
  • Any other business
  • Date/time of next meeting



Conducting the Meeting


  • Professional
  • Be prepared
  • Courteous and Polite
  • Keep to agenda
  • Avoiding distractions and time wasting



The Chair

The role of the chair is to: 


  • Convenes and runs meetings with the group's active support
  • May act as spokesperson for the group, by representing  the group's views.





  • Planning and preparing for a meeting with the Secretary
  • Asking for apologies for absence
  • Welcoming and involving any new members
  • Introducing each agenda item with a brief summary
  • Running the meeting so everyone has a chance to  contribute
  • Encouraging the group to reach clear decisions
  • Summarising decisions
  • Clarifying action to be taken, and who will take it
  • Fixing a date for the next meeting if appropriate
  • Declaring the meeting closed.


It is important to remember that the Chair can only operate with the assistance of the group and everybody has responsibility for the conduct of meetings.



A record of each meeting must be kept so that any agreements or items discussed are recorded and the appropriate people are informed.

The record of a meeting is known as the Minutes and is written in the past tense eg “RG reported that the fire alarm was not working” not “The fire alarm is not working”


Minutes - a practical check-list


  • Take detailed notes during the meeting and write them up into Minutes straight after the meeting.
  • Keep the notes as a backup until the group approves your Minutes at the next meeting.
  • For key decisions that are really important, get agreement for the wording during the meeting itself.
  • Keep the Minutes short and to the point.
  • Always minute important decisions taken, any action, and who will be doing it.
  • Circulate Minutes before the next meeting both as a record and a reminder.
  • Keep all the Minutes together in one file, so they can be referred to in case of later queries.






Task 7.3.5 Meetings



Produce an agenda for a site meeting to discuss the progress of work.


Word Guide: 100 – 200



Unit Complete
You have now completed Unit 7. So you should complete your assignment and send it to 
When submitting your assignment you should ensure that it meets all the requirements set out on the Submitting Assignments page, which is accessible from the Student Area.
You will be notified as soon as this has been assessed and will then be advised as to your next unit.




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