As a leader, you have to
maintain a delicate balance when it comes to communication, says Nancy Kremer.
While you want everyone in
your company on the same
page, working toward the same
goals and embracing the same
core values, you also want each
of them to think freely, challenge assumptions and bring
new ideas to the table.
According to Kremer — head of St. Luke Hospitals, a member
of The Health Alliance, a health
care system with an estimated
$71.2 million in annual revenue,
according to Hoovers.com —
managing a business is lot like
conducting an orchestra. Even if
you have the most talented
musicians, if they don’t know
how to play their parts, the
music won’t sound right. As
with a conductor standing
before his ensemble, a good
business leader must always
show the way to harmony.
Smart Business spoke with
Kremer about why communication from the top is so important.
Seek different perspectives. While
you want everyone focused in
the same direction, you also
want enough differences so
that you’re never at fault for
things like groupthink.
You want to have differences
of opinion, challenging directions so that you are really
ensuring that your goals are the
appropriate goals. A mentor of
mine in the past said, ‘Health
care is much like an orchestra;
regardless of the section of
instrument that you play, everyone needs to be playing the
instruments correctly for the
symphony to sound correct.’
The same is true here — where
everyone needs to be contributing from a quality point of view.
Another part when you’re talking about issues of goals and
objectives is also to recognize
that goals and objectives are
best identified and observed
when they are shared.
Communicate through different
avenues. You have to commit to
a very thorough communication structure and make sure
everyone in the organization,
regardless of what they contribute to that communication
process, has access to that
information. It’s committing to
an effective process.
People need a variety of venues to obtain information. Some
people interpret better from
written communication, others
from face-to-face, and it requires
really sending our information
in a variety of different ways.
We’ll try to offer it in multiple
different forums, be it in groups
as well as written. We also try to
consider timing as well as different written formats.
When you are dealing with a
change in strategy, with significant change in the organization,
it requires face-to-face, along with many other platforms of
communication. It depends on
the type of information and the
relevance to the reader. Some
information is very targeted and
some is very broad. It depends
on the audience.
We like to do face-to-face
when we’re talking about new
service development, when
we’re talking about any HR
issues that might affect individuals directly. We also like to do
face-to-face just for an interactive opportunity to ask questions and give progress reports.
You don’t always have the
opportunity to stick to the
schedule you started in the
morning, and you have to make
a decision to alter the events of the day. That is true with communication — where you need
to make decisions to contact
someone, meet with someone or
with a group if there are issues
or concerns that are raised.
It’s really that communication
is the most important process
that occurs in an organization,
and you have to make time to
do it correctly. Communication
is always something you can
improve upon. You’re never
getting it just right.
Seek feedback on your communication. If you’re not reaching
people, you’re wasting your
time. If you’re not reaching
people, they don’t have the
information to perform correctly or interpret correctly.
Information is two ways, so
the information from the associates to the administrative staff is very key to make sure
our function is suited to what it
needs to be. I look at our position as that we’re here to support the real work that is done
out there. If we are not connecting with communication,
we are likely not performing
the way we need to.
We seek feedback through a
variety of things. One, by just
asking associates, asking the
patients, asking physicians,
either through formal surveys,
one-on-one or in meetings, talking about what is working and
not working. We have done surveys that are very specific as to
whether someone likes this type
of communication better than
that type. People are always willing to share that with you.
Then it’s important that the
organization responds to that.
Know how others see you. If
you’re a leader with passion, I
think it shows. And it’s a very
basic characteristic to be seen
as someone who presents consistent candor, someone who is
right out there with information
and is out there to share information with your people.
It has to be a part of your
style, a desire to make your
employees realize that you are
about building trust and consistency. It’s about all of those
things, and it’s a lot about
appreciation of others and their
contributions to the organization. No one accomplishes
much by themselves. That’s
why we have a constant team
effort in this organization.
HOW TO REACH: St. Luke Hospitals, (859) 572-3100 [east], (859) 212-5200 [west] or