Making your words count

If your idea of a great communicator is a leader who delivers inspiring speeches or writes
best-selling books, you’re right
— at least partly. Great communicators can do great things
with their talents and skills.

However, if you don’t possess
superlative oratory skills and
don’t have a finished manuscript to show publishers,
William F. Provenzano says you
shouldn’t take that as a sign
that you can’t be a great communicator.

The president of $56 million
Ohio Valley General Hospital
says that truly great communicators are measured not in the
messages they deliver but in
how they are received by their
audience. If your employees
think you are straightforward
and genuine and that you value
their input, chances are you’ll
get high marks from them as a

But Provenzano says that getting to that point takes consistent reinforcement of your messages.

Smart Business spoke with
Provenzano about how to
become a better communicator
in the eyes of your employees.

Know what to communicate. First,
you need to know what you
have to communicate. You
really need to be able to step
back and see what you need to
communicate, what is it about
the organization that is important and what is it that you
need to talk about.

When you do that, you focus
on the A priority, so to speak,
and you’re not just chit-chatting. You focus on those, and
then you communicate and
discuss those issues.

So for us, it’s basically talking about where we’re going
with the hospital, what is our
strategic plan. You talk about
that, and then you tie the other
pieces together.

Say we need to build a medical office building, which we
are actually just doing now. We
need to get a contractor to
build it, we need to go out and
get the leases and meet with
the physicians. We need to get
them into the building and
make sure they use the hospital services.

Remain accessible. Employees
need to see the leader. They
need to see who is running the
organization and know them.
But probably the most important part of that is people really want to feel part of the

They don’t want to just be a
worker. They want to be part
of its mission and its future.
They really want to contribute
to the success of the organization. If you don’t involve them,
you don’t talk to them and you
don’t see them, they don’t feel
like that. That’s the biggest key.

Employees will bring issues
up to you. If they see something,
they might e-mail you. But if I’m
just walking around, they’ll say,
‘Hey, Mr. Provenzano, were you aware of this?’ Then you go
back to the office and figure
out how to address it.

So they’ll frequently talk to
you, even if they don’t end up
e-mailing you. And if they see
you around frequently, they’ll
feel more comfortable stopping you and talking to you.