Communicate More Effectively with Your Team
“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” – Jim Rohn
You’ve heard it over and over and said a hundred different ways, haven’t you? Strong communication lies at the heart of every strong relationship. Just as communication is one of the most important elements in your relationship with your partner, sibling, child, parent, or close friend, it is equally important in your work relationships. Whether in our current workplaces or in jobs past, most of us have probably suffered from the effects of poor communication at one time or another. Have your ever been in a situation at work, where you didn’t feel valued or respected by your colleagues, superiors or employees? Maybe you’ve had an experience with a workmate where you felt like you kept circling round and round the same subject or issue, not getting any closer to an end result. Often when we feel misunderstood or undervalued in our workplace, the root of the problem is linked to miscommunication.
Good communication is not something that just appears out of thin air, as much as we’d all love to think it might. It is something to be actively and intentionally worked on and improved. As a chiropractic business owner, you are the keystone to setting up and modeling communication with your CAs that is clear, effective, and reciprocal. The upside to this? If you create this culture in your office, your team will follow suit. The downside? You may have a lot of work ahead of you.
First thing’s first- create the culture. If you are open and honest about the both the successes and the challenges of your chiropractic practice, your CAs are going to be more understanding of your processes and requests and naturally more trusting. Strive for transparency, always. Along with this notion is the benefit of having an open door policy. Encourage your employees to ask for help, voice their concerns, and make suggestions in your office. If you or other office managers seem inaccessible or removed from your team, this can give the impression to your employees that they are not as valuable. While you want to keep figurative doors open, consider how literal barriers, isolating you from your team, might be removed as well to increase your accessibility and approachability.
Next, remember the 5 c’s of effective communication when communicating with your team. Above all, always be clear with your employees. Whether you are assigning a task or giving constructive feedback, you must first ask yourself what you are trying to convey and what you’d like the other person to walk away with. Your team cannot to meet your expectations if they don’t understand what you expect from them. If you are too vague with your request or concern, chances are you’re going to get an unclear or incorrect response or outcome, inevitably wasting both yours and your CA’s time. There is no place for ambiguity in practice management.
And speaking of time… when communicating, be concise. Keep your requests direct, simple, and to the point. The more prepared you are for the interaction, the easier this will be. Eliminate wordiness. Try not to get caught up in the narrative, but stay focused on the intended message. Your message should also be cohesive. What you’re saying should be logical and in an order that’s easy to follow. Try not to jump from one thing to the next, whether you’re communicating in person or in written form.
As the team leader, you need to be curious. It is important for you to show care and concern for your employees and to make space for their needs. If you make a request to your whole team or just one CA, make sure to listen to any concerns, issues or specific needs they may have to complete the task. This is your time to shift the focus off of you and to try and understand where your team members are coming from.
Which leads to the last ‘c’- always be compassionate. This is incredibly important in all human interactions. Communication can be so hard because there are two (or more) separate, autonomous individuals with different backgrounds, experience levels, or ideals, trying to see eye to eye on one specific, sometimes personal topic. It’s crucial to remember that a synonym for compassion is empathy. So often communication breakdowns come from a lack of empathy for the other person. When communicating with your team members, you should make an attempt to understand their experience and perspectives. Try to put your assumptions aside and really listen to their feedback. If someone feels like they are being heard, they tend to be more open and feel safer, leading to a more trusting relationship. If you understand, recognize and appreciate the way your employees feel, you will have more success managing conflict, inspiring growth, and instilling confidence in your team.
If you want your team to communicate effectively with you, it’s important to take the quality and sanctity of communication seriously. Consider your communication methods with your team. If your main method of communicating is via email, consider integrating regularly scheduled meetings into your operation. This doesn’t have to be daily meetings, but maybe you can find a place for monthly or even weekly meetings to have face to face check-ins and address concerns. There is so much value in in-person meetings. You can keep these short and succinct, but real face-time offers an abundance of benefits for your team. Some of the (countless) payoffs include maintained focus, team building/relationship building, fostering trust and empathy, and sharing your stoke. Final point elaborated: emotions are contagious! If you are trying to evoke excitement, enthusiasm, motivation, or passion in your team, in-person meetings are the way to go.
Another helpful communication tool in today’s professional climate, is the use of anonymous surveys. While face-to-face meetings are essential and should not be replaced by online forums, the fact is that sometimes employees have a hard time giving honest feedback or constructive criticism to their higher ups. Consider creating a google form or utilizing another platform when asking for feedback about recent challenges, upcoming changes, or simply inviting assessments about day-to-day operations. Sometimes anonymity helps us feel like our voice is more powerful, or at the very least removes the fear of retribution.
It may seem obvious, but effective communication in chiropractic offices and really any work environment takes effort, dedication, and even artistry. George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” So don’t settle for malfunctioning or even subpar communication in your office. Systems can always be improved, and you as the business owner, will receive the most rewarding payoff from a team that communicates strongly with you, each other, and your patients. Good luck!