Sample Essay on Effective Communication Skills in Healthcare

Abstract

Effective communication skills for managers are a key determinant of success in healthcare organizations. Operational healthcare practices require accurate information to be communicated to all parties, an aspect that can be realized through good communication skills and leadership. The continuous process of developing communication skills for leaders is through self-study, learning, guidance, and experiences. To motivate employees to exceptional levels of teamwork, there are numerous steps and actions that leaders or managers need to engage in. These elements are implemented through effective leadership and communication skills. The healthcare sector has faced several concerns in recent times. One of the issues affecting the industry is the lack of effective communication skills that has led to poor performance and output. This paper provides a discussion on effects of communication skills on management in healthcare organization as a factor affecting the healthcare industry.

 Effective Communication Skills in Healthcare

Introduction

Healthcare is one of the steady growing sectors in the world today with an array of opportunities and challenges. Healthcare employees work in different settings, for instance, health facilities, such as hospitals, delivery systems, care organizations, and home health agencies spread across the society. Healthcare organizations are intricate and dynamic in nature (Kannampallil, Schauer, Cohen & Patel, 2011). All organizations are established with an intention of achieving specific goals and objectives that are beyond the capability of a single individual. This is the same case with healthcare organizations. The scope of tasks and responsibilities within these organizations requires effective coordination of different disciplines that must work as a team, which is achieved through effective communication skills by leaders (Markides, 2011). Organizational leaders are required to ensure that specific organizational tasks are executed effectively to achieve the desired goals.

Currently, there are a huge number of people in health leadership roles at different organizational levels. The growing diversity in the healthcare organizations has increased the demand for healthcare managers in health facilities and the need for them to have discipline and good communication skills for successful health promotion (Tremblay, & Richard 2014).

Healthcare leaders are appointed in managerial positions of influence and establish the course of organizations by making important decisions that are implemented through effective communication. The decisions address all the elements within a healthcare organization, such as recruitment of staff, training and development, technology acquisition, and financial expenditure among others. In addition, the decisions made by healthcare managers and communication determine the quality of services patients get and take into account the overall achievement of performance targets of the organization. In the end, a single decision made by a manager or healthcare leader affects the general performance of a healthcare organization or facility (Al-Sawai, 2013).

Literature Review

Managers Communication Skills Impacts on Healthcare

Healthcare leaders provide effective leadership and direction to organizations and facilities that offer personal health services. The roles of healthcare leaders are very crucial in making informed decisions about the general operations of these facilities. Many healthcare organizations have failed to deliver quality services because of lack of clear guidelines and strategy as a result of ineffective communication between healthcare professionals and patients (Markides, 2011). Currently, the effects of poor communication by organizational managers have adversely affected the healthcare sector.

In performing their managerial responsibilities in the healthcare sector, managers need to adhere to two important elements: external and internal domains. This is because the healthcare sector is elaborate (Kannampallil, Schauer, Cohen & Patel, 2011). External domains refer to the influences found outside the boundaries of a healthcare organization but have a major influence on the organization. They include community needs, population features, and medical aids. On the other hand, the internal domains are the daily facets that leaders deal with on a daily basis within healthcare organizations. Internal domains involve different facets, for example, having the right employees, provision of quality care, and financial analysis. In most cases, managers have control over internal domains that reflect the general operation of organizations. These factors need the attention of healthcare managers through effective communication in order to function well in the operations of the organizations both internally and externally (Kennedy, Denise, Fasolino, John, Gullen, & David, 2014).

The success of a leader in the healthcare industry is determined by the ability to point out the organization’s fundamentals, for instance, discipline, strategic decision-making, and actual manager organization through clear and effective communication. An effective leader motivates and inspires his/her team of employees and patients through good communication skills (Markides, 2011). Effective communication by healthcare leaders is an organizational requisite that has been recognized over time. Healthcare organizational leaders need to adapt to different communication skills, and maintain the trend of the changing global organizational environment. Good characteristics of a healthcare leader can be described as visionary, dynamic, good communication skills, and the desire to lead the team in achieving organizational goals Al-Sawai, 2013).

Good communication skills facilitate a healthcare leader to maintain the effectiveness of the group through applying problem solving process and enhancing its identity. Healthcare leaders should be able to influence other team members by applying communication skills. A good leader is a person who aims at influencing others in an organization. In healthcare organizations, leaders with good communication skills can persuade other employees in following the organizational goals and working towards achieving them. Through good communication skills, a leader can give clear instructions, control, and improve the performance of the team (Al-Sawai, 2013).

Lack of communication skills by organizational leaders can also result in many errors and disparities within healthcare facilities (Warner, & Washington, 2011). Medical errors that are as a result of ineffective communication are common in the current society. When there is poor communication among healthcare professionals, the safety of patients is at risk. This is because several issues, such as lack of crucial information, misinterpretation of information, and poor information given.

Furthermore, effective communication by healthcare leaders is essential for leading and building understanding between employees and patients (Markides, 2011). This is crucial in maintaining trust, an aspect that provides good relations in health facilities. Poor communication skills, therefore, hinder accomplishment of desired goals within the health facilities.

Leadership communication is a process where organizational leaders transfer ideas or information in a structured manner to all the intended team in the organization in order to bring change (Husain, 2013). This process relies on the ability of leaders to communicate effectively. If employees were to be communicated to in an effective way, there would be no crises in healthcare that result from employees and other stakeholders’ inability to understand instructions. Leadership communication can be written or spoken and begins with emotional intelligence and the ability to understand people from different cultures.

Communication Skills and Functions and Competencies in Healthcare

Communication is important in the coordination of all services provided within a healthcare organization. Regarding manager’s role, communication skills entails manager’s effort in sending information and messages to all the intended organization’s employees aimed at realizing organization’s set goals and objectives (Husain, 2013). A manager is any person within an organization in charge of the work performance of other employees. Before looking at the effects of communication skills in the operations of managers, there are six important functions performed by healthcare leaders to be understood.

Planning: In leadership and management of healthcare organization, planning refers to the manager’s role in providing direction within a healthcare organization concerning what needs to be accomplished. It involves preference setting and establishing performance targets.

Organization: Organizations in healthcare entities entail a given design or unit that falls under the control of a manager. Relationship is created and tasks are distributed through the designation of responsibility units.

Staffing: The process of staffing in healthcare organization involves acquiring and preserving quality human resource in a healthcare organization. This goes further into developing and maintaining the force through deliberate actions and strategies.

Controlling: In healthcare organizations, controlling embroils monitoring all the activities of employees in the healthcare organizations in terms of performance, and making necessary arrangements to improve their overall performance.

Directing: This refers to a call to action function within an organization established through effective leadership, employee motivation, and proper communication.

Decision Making: This is the principal function of organizational managers in healthcare organizations. Making effective decision determines the future of a healthcare organization.

Managers need to possess several significant competencies in communication skills in order to perform these functions efficiently and bring change (Nordin, 2014). Competency in this context is a state in which an individual has the capability to carry out specific functions. For instance, interpersonal skills encompass the ability of a healthcare organization manager to communicate effectively with other members of the organization regardless of their position (Gabriele, 2011), an aspect of leadership ethics. For instance, a manager who engages an employee in a moderate interaction concerning his/her performance practices interpersonal communication skills that are important in improving both the leader and the employee (Vertino, 2014).

Communication Skills and Managers Control Structure in Healthcare

There are different positions in healthcare organizations. The positions are primarily determined by the size and complexity of a healthcare unit or organization. The common management structure is found at three levels; lower level, middle level, and upper level, which is the top or executive. The hierarchy within healthcare organization means that power and authority is delegated down from top managers to lower employees. This means that at the top level, manager’s scope of responsibility is higher to lower level managers. The managerial positions are also determined by the level of expertise and experience. An effective communication skill in these structures is important. Top managers will be in position to give direction to junior employees effectively and execute them through effective communication skills. This will create harmony and realization of goals and objectives in healthcare organizations through efficiency (Uka, 2014).

Functional organization structure is the most familiar configuration for healthcare organizations. Its main feature is pyramid shape hierarchy where functions and responsibilities are executed at different levels. This structure is also determined by the size and complexity of a given healthcare unit. Large organization facilities, such as hospital systems will tend to have a vertical structure with distinct levels of administrative functions. This structure is crucial due to the expansive important functions the facility offers that entails close supervision and coordination. The functional structure of healthcare organization also involves a chain of command in roles and responsibilities that ensure effective communication and assignment of tasks is done through a linear command and control system environment. Therefore, it is important that leaders in this structure need to have effective communication skills in order to improve on the organization functioning process (Banihashemi, 2011).

Under the matrix structure, there is a general agreement that strict functional structure shields the flexibility of an organization in undertaking its activities. For example, a matrix staff refers to a case where an administrative assistant is assigned to work with a clinical staff on a given program and present their findings to the Program Director. In this case, a the manager is given free will to work with other employees who do not directly fall under his/her administrative control. The matrix structure is important for the purposes of improved lateral communication and incorporation of a broad knowledge to bring change (Husain, 2013), an aspect that is enhanced through effective communication skills by the leaders.

Service line management entails a leader who is appointed to be in charge of a particular health line in all aspects, for instance, staffing, budgeting, resource acquisition, and other responsibilities under that service line. Examples of service lines are cardiology, women services, physical rehabilitation, and mental health. These health lines can be formed as a single organization or as affiliate health facility within the health organization provided at different locations. Service line leaders in these functional units must possess good communication skills in order to coordinate their activities effectively (Banihashemi, 2011). Communication in these facilities will be crucial for effective provision of services and coordination with facility main management. There are different structures in line management as compared with the normal organizational structure and culture of specific tasks being associated with a given specialty. Effective communication in these line structures has several advantages, for instance, higher quality care and patient satisfaction. In most cases, service line communication and management model normally occurs within a healthcare organization in collaboration with specific functional structure, thereby improving the organization functioning process (Banihashemi, 2011).

Communication Skills Effect on Self, Team and Organization

Effective healthcare leaders must have proficient judgment and skills in performing the management functions, particularly at three levels, self, team, and organization. First, the healthcare managers must be able to effectually manage themselves through intra-personal communication. Elements entailed in this practice include time information, space, and materials. Effective communication skills will enable the managers to motivate employees, and cultivate a positive attitude towards their functions in order to deliver quality and effective services (Uka, 2014).

At teamwork level, the manager must have the capacity to communicate successfully to manage other employees efficiently in carrying out their responsibilities. All managers are responsible for controlling a given number of employees. This involves responsibilities, such as assigning roles, monitoring the execution, appraising performance, and performing other managerial functions. This level of management is crucial as it entails the practical execution of roles and responsibilities to bring change (Nordin, 2014). The outcome or performance of employees in most cases is determined by the interaction between the manager and the employee. It is therefore important for the managers to incorporate actual strategies of communication skills in their teamwork efforts in order to ensure that healthcare employees feel part of the team in attaining the organizations goals and objectives (Nordin, 2014).

The third management application is at the organizational level. At this level, managers need to work together as one in their duties in order to ensure a homogenous performance within the organization with similar goals and objectives. The success of an organization runs down from the collaboration of all the employees and managers. Close partnership between managers takes into account elements, such as information sharing, and communication between their distinct departments or units. All the units within a healthcare organization reflect the overall image of the facility hence the association replicates the goals and objectives of the organization that are attained through effective communication skills (Husain, 2013).

Communication Skills and Talent Management in Healthcare

Talent management is a significant function of healthcare managers in ensuring that employees are highly motivated in performing their functions effectively. The healthcare sector, as other sectors, competes for quality labor. This is prompted by the desire of achieving high performance in the organization that is dependent on effective human performance. In achieving their goals and objectives, many healthcare organizations have identified human performance as a strategic party in the creation of competitive advantage in the healthcare sector. Many healthcare organizations in this effect have come up with talent management as a replacement for human resource management. This alteration has played a major role in shifting focus from simply employment of employees to securing and retaining the best employees in organizations. After the recruitment process, healthcare managers also focus on developing and retaining employees whose performance is outstanding. Different healthcare organizations have come up with numerous strategies in maintaining this group of employees. Examples of these strategies include formal training programs, hands on leadership assistance, continuous education provision, and job enrichments. Other healthcare organizations have also employed non-formal mechanisms, such as employee reviews, feedback solicit, and introducing worker suggestion programs that encourage good employee- employer associations. Effective communication skills are very significant in talent management. Leader’s good communication skills within these organizations are a significant component for both quality performance and reducing the cost factor of hiring and training new employees (Groves, 2011).

Effects of Communication Skills in and High Performance

One of the prerogative roles of all leaders within organizations is to ensure a high performance by all employees that translates to the organization’s overall change in performance. High performance is determined by the effectiveness of value setting and achieving set goals and objectives within the healthcare organizations. Achieving the goals and objectives of an organization is also determined by good communication between health professionals and patients in a healthcare facility (Markides, 2011). This will help managers to effectively coordinate all strategies within healthcare organizations. High performing organizations are champion organizations in their operations. This means that their excellent performance should also be meaningful to everyone and the society. There are several elements entailed in the championship process that are significance in developing performance measures in healthcare. They include governance and strategic management, clinical quality, customer satisfaction, financial quality, and information services among others, which are attained through effective communication skills that are part of leadership ethics in healthcare (Tremblay, & Richard, 2014).

Leaders are liable for ensuring that the actions are implemented as discussed through effective communication skills. There are five key elements involved in the performance management process. These are setting objectives, measuring performance, equating performance and objectives, establishing reasons for deviation, and finally taking a corrective action. Many stakeholders within the healthcare industry, for instance, states, advocacy groups, and the insurers expect a very high level of performance. Healthcare organizations are accredited by an assurance of stakeholders, consumers, and other parties’ involved, which can only be determined by organizational leaders having good communication skills in listening to what stakeholders say. Their main objective is to ensure services offered by healthcare organizations are safe, expedient, costly, and ecofriendly. Endorsement of healthcare entities entails determining the value of service delivery and safeguarding quality standards by the organizations. There are also quality improvement organizations that ensure healthcare organizations play a significant role in incorporating qualified personnel, enhancing efficiency, and controlling medical costs to improve service delivery. Through good communication, the coordination of activities between these groups and healthcare organizations is made efficient to bring about necessary change (Nordin, 2014).

Different healthcare organizations have come up with different ways of measuring their performance process. The common methods employed are incorporating dashboards that provide a swift interpretation of performance regarding key measures. Leaders in senior healthcare organization use the methods in ascertaining the performance of the organization to the management boards. Managers also use the same methods in measuring performance at different organizational levels. Interpretation of these results entails good communication skills for the leaders. Consequently, the results ascertained are used in decision-making process in healthcare organizations to improve performance through several measures, such as improving employee welfare, training, promotions, and termination of contracts where necessary. Communication skills therefore play a crucial role in this case (Nordin, 2014).

Communication Skills and Succession Planning in Healthcare

There is an increased competition in the demand for highly motivated and skilled employees within the healthcare industry. Therefore, healthcare leaders encounter the challenge of succession planning in their firms. Succession planning is defined as the deliberate action of moving the organizational staff up the management roles and responsibilities to replace other managers or senior employees who vacate the positions due to several reasons like retirement, transfers, or death. Succession planning is a significant process within the healthcare organization because of the large retiring figures and many new entrants in the sector. As discussed earlier, more emphasis is on high quality performance. This makes it necessary for healthcare organizational leaders to nurture talents within the organizations that assume the roles and maintain the standards set for these health entities. Nurturing of these talents within healthcare organizations is dependent on effective communication skills by managers. Good communication skills managers will provide effective and transformational future leaders who understand their roles and responsibilities (Husain, 2013).

One of the major healthcare measure managers need to establish in order to ensure that succession leadership is maintained is mentoring programs. This is aimed at ensuring that junior management get clear information from the senior management as an effective way of preparing them for a possible future take over. Without clear communication skills, the mentors may be skilled but will not pass the expertise to their juniors. One of the significant benefits of mentoring process is leaders’ perception of their skills and efforts as crucial to the further growth of the organization. Several mentorship programs to employees has also been suggested as one of the best procedures in acquiring the required amount of expertise, experience, and interest in order to maximize professional growth. Middle level managers in healthcare organizations mentoring process are also fundamental as a way of preparing the young managers for future senior responsibilities. Effective succession planning therefore relies on good communication skills for efficient mentoring process in improving the future of organizational process (Banihashemi, 2011).

Conclusion

Healthcare management is not simple and requires leaders who are sound conceptual, technical, and have good communication skills in order to perform the functions of planning, organization, staffing, directing, controlling, and decision making effectively. In order to communicate effectively in this sector, managers are required to maintain a twofold perspective in understanding both the internal and external domains of the organizations. Furthermore, the leaders must develop their communication skills at a personal, team, and organizational level. Communication in is crucial at different levels in healthcare organizations, for instance, supervisory, middle, and senior-management levels. Managers, in undertaking their roles and responsibilities, should ensure that healthcare organizations’ performance is maintained at high standards through effective communication skills. They are also important integral part in recruiting and retaining talents within the healthcare organizations along with succession planning which can only be achieved through effective communication skills.

 

References

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