Leadership is a never ending area of research and the art of motivating others to achieve a common goal. In this article, we will discuss the true work of leadership: Communication.
Everyone would agree, the most impactful leaders demonstrate integrity and lead by example. There is no area more challenging or critical than communication. Effective communication is the life’s blood of any business, organization, or relationship. It is more than an exchange of information.
Communication is adequately communicating your mission, explaining the steps necessary to fulfill the mission, and motivating the recipient to fulfill the mission. The passion and energy worthy of the mission should be expressed in a way they can fully understand. Now that’s quite a tall order! Put simply, communication is the palpable work of leadership and relationships. Below are some actionable steps to help you move toward becoming a skilled communicator.
First and foremost, people will not hear you if they do not trust you. Trust takes time to build, and communication starts with strong listening skills. Communication is a two-way exchange of information, not a monologue. Ask yourself some tough questions. Are you allowing the other individual to share openly and honestly? Are you truly listening, or are you waiting for an opportunity to interrupt and “set them straight”? Listening to understand rather than listening to respond allows your focus to actively be on the conversation.
When you show genuine interest in the other person, empathizing with their concerns, they are more inclined to share in your mission and work together to find solutions to challenges. You may have the final say, but your team member’s insights are no less valuable than your own.
True change comes about by being committed to consistency. Communication is a fluid and ongoing process. Successful teams do not just happen, they are built with intention. Commit to productive conversations in every aspect of business and patient care rather than solely in the occasional team meeting. Practice makes perfect, and communication will work, when you are willing to work at it.
Explain and engage
It may seem obvious why thorough documentation is important for patient care. But if you take the time to explain without condescension how detailed documentation protects the employee, the practice, and the patient, your team member may own the value of recordkeeping and become exemplary in its execution.
Ask team members for their input. “What are some key pieces of information you’ve found helpful in past treatment notes, that helped you treat your patient better?” Not only have you invited them to engage in creating positive change, but you’ve also reinforced their value in the practice.
Get to know each other
The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace is the professional application of the bestselling book, The Five Love Languages®. Written by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White, these principles help you identify the best means of motivating and empowering your team, by communicating via their language of appreciation. The result is overwhelming employee satisfaction and productivity.
The Five Languages of Appreciation are:
- Words of Affirmation
- verbal communication of positive messages to another.
- Quality time
- Giving your team member your full attention.
- Acts of Service
- Helping a team member with a task or project to their specifications.
- Tangible Gifts
- Thoughtful, considerate gifts (not necessarily expensive)
- Physical Touch
- Appropriate, touch such as high fives or a thumbs up.
Regardless if you’re pointing out an area for improvement or highlighting a job well done, be specific in your communication. Instead of settling for, “Great job today!”, as you walk out the door, stop and provide specific feedback so the employee can replicate or improve the behavior in the future.
“You did a great job explaining treatment to Mr. Smith today. The way you utilized the intraoral photos and radiographs helped him understand the process, and say yes to treatment. Great job today!“
Important exchanges and directives should take place in person, or on voice or virtual calls. In this age of technology and convenience, it is easy to hide behind technology to deliver awkward or dreaded notices.
Texts and emails should be used to enhance and reinforce important conversations, but should never take the place of a voice-to-voice exchange. Miscommunication is easily intensified in flat, unilateral electronic messages. Voice inflection, emotion, body language, and eye contact enhance the communication delivery, and these can only occur with face-to-face interactions or voice calls.
We are all looking for a cohesive community, unified in our mission. Create and celebrate a culture built on communication, and you will propel your team forward toward your targeted goals. Communication is the impetus for change, and the catalyst that propels your vision to become a reality. If you want a strong team, you will cultivate strong communication.
Her clinical and support team experiences are the inspiration for her writing and the motivation for coaching clients to success. She is a regular contributor to various publications within dentistry and beyond. In addition to feeding the homeless, starting a non-profit, and being involved in her church and other community organizations, she sings professionally and enjoys several creative outlets. She resides in Florida where she enjoys the company of her husband, three children, and four beautiful grandchildren.