One of the biggest challenges faced by stroke coordinators and other program leaders is how to communicate clearly and effectively with senior hospital leadership. Attributes that make a great stroke leader such as attention to detail, ability to multitask and rapidly shift between clinical and administrative roles and responsibilities don’t always translate well when trying to communicate up the chain-of-command about program needs, concerns and barriers. Thankfully, the skills to communicate effectively with hospital leadership can be learned.
Effective Communication Tactics For Stroke Coordinators
Consider incorporating these approaches during your next interaction with hospital executives:
- Get to the point: Senior hospital executives are strapped for time and look to you to distill the information into key findings and suggestions. Organize your thoughts and narrow your communication into no more than 3-5 key points. The key points may prompt additional discussion where you are able to give background details and answer questions. For many of us, this requires flipping our normal communication approach.
- Many program leaders are used to providing volumes of information before articulating the key finding, proposed plan or suggested intervention. When communicating with executives, try leading with the key finding, plan or intervention and provide background details and rationale as time allows.
- Shorter meetings = Better meetings? Who says all meetings need to be an hour? Or even 30 minutes? Our calendars tend to default to certain meeting times, so most of us are conditioned to believe meetings always last 30 or 60 minutes. When meeting with your boss or hospital executives, you may only have 15 minutes for a key discussion. Organize your thoughts so you can accomplish your goals with shorter face-time.
- Think SWOT: The SWOT tool, a list of key program Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats is an effective way to analyze the needs of a program. Keep an active list of SWOT speaking points and report regularly on a few strengths/opportunities and weaknesses/threats when meeting with your executive leaders.
- Always have an “elevator speech”: Picture this — on your way to work tomorrow, you catch an elevator with your hospital’s CEO. It’s just you and the CEO for the 3-minute ride. Would you take the opportunity to discuss your stroke program? Do you know what you would say and can you keep your comments short and to the point? So many leaders miss the opportunity to advocate for their program when faced with an unplanned encounter. An “elevator speech” is a short (no longer than 1-2 minutes, or the length of an elevator ride) message that you can deliver in an impromptu setting. Practice your elevator speech so you are ready for interacting with your executives at any turn.