June 5, 2017

How effective is your communication? 4 questions for nursing leaders to ask themselves

Communication is essential in a hospital. Whether it is critical patient information, a vision for the future, or upcoming changes, nursing leadership should always be communicating. Due to the fast moving pace of a hospital it is essential that top level leaders communicate frequently and effectively. The problem is that it can be difficult to gauge how effectively you’re communicating. Even more problematic is that most people you lead are not going to point out areas of weakness in your communication and blind spots are, well, things you are blind to in the first place. Ask yourself the following four questions to evaluate how effectively you are communicating with your nursing staff and your peers in the hospital.

  1. Have I invested relationally in the people I lead recently? Communication minus relationship is garbage in nearly every area of life. Think about it. We have a special folder (spam) dedicated to people or businesses trying to communicate with us that we don’t want to interact with. When you open your mail and it is labeled to “the current resident” of a address, do you even care to open it? When you get a phone call at home and don’t recognize the number do you answer in the same way if it were someone in your contacts? All these examples are communication minus relationship and in general, they are extremely ineffective. As John Maxwell is famous for saying, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The more disconnected you are from the people you communicate with, the less weight your communication will carry. So be visible and seek to create some level of relationships with your stakeholders.
  1. Has everyone who needs to know this information been informed? Healthcare organization are complex. Generally this means that when something needs to be communicated, it needs to be communicated to more than one group. If communication is missed with a particular group everything falls apart. This might require you to ask the people directly involved who else needs to know.
  1. Do the people you have communicated with know what is required of them? It is believed that you can store around seven things in your head for about 20-30 seconds. In other words, you need to make sure people take away exactly what are want them to. Did you emphasize and repeat key points that people need to know? Can you follow up with a conversation in a meaningful way like a email to make sure expectations are clear. Be clear with what is expected from your audience. This empowers them to meet your expectations.
  1. What do I need to do with what I communicated? Accountability is being answerable for a result. If you communicate something you should keep yourself accountable to following up on it. If it isn’t worth following up on, is it worth communicating? Bring true accountability to your organization by following up where you should.
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