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Career Center: Leadership Skills Include Communication, Tech Etiquette

By Cindy Stephens

Effective Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) leaders must demonstrate excellent communication skills and practice good business etiquette, especially when it comes to cellphones, tablets and e-mail.

Today’s technology enables people to easily communicate with anyone from anywhere and at any time. However, this convenience has also caused many people to lose sight of the importance of communicating effectively in their daily business and professional lives. Our communication skills are now challenged and complicated by information overload from social media, e-mail and texting.

Yet, developing and maintaining professional communication skills and common courtesies continues to be very important today.

Effective communication is critical in business and how one communicates with others greatly affects the way they are perceived. Whether you are responding to a phone call, voice-mail message or e-mail, professionalism is important. Equally significant is how soon you respond to messages. If you do not respond promptly, you may be perceived as a person lacking in professional courtesy.

While electronic communication is very important in daily operations, it can also lead to miscommunication and confusion. Too often, communication skills are lost when texting, e-mailing or chatting via social media. A message sent can easily be misunderstood.

The use of electronic messages can also hinder good writing skills. Many people are so used to sending text messages that they lose grammar and spelling skills. It soon carries over to business communication.

HTM leaders should maintain professional courtesies and use effective and timely communication skills daily. They should be direct and concise. No one wants to read a lengthy e-mail that loses its message amid a sea of unnecessary words.

When responding to an e-mail, ensure the message is succinct, uses appropriate grammar and spelling, and has appropriately constructed sentences and paragraphs. Nothing is worse than attempting to interpret an e-mail that runs on and on before getting to the point.

Leaders can use technological tools as an essential method for effective and efficient communication. Use of appropriate software such as spreadsheets can also assist in keeping your team up-to-date and informed of special projects and initiatives. However, this informal means of communication can contribute to employees feeling isolated rather than feeling like part of a team. Therefore, it is important for leaders to engage their team and ensure they are genuinely connected without complete reliance on technology.

Great leaders successfully inspire, encourage and motivate teams with effective verbal communication skills that help articulate specific thoughts and instructions. Eye contact, voice inflections, and verbal pauses are lost in electronic messages, which can mislead a reader.

Use good listening skills to ensure you understand what is being said. By listening carefully to conversations, you catch details that may be missed in a text or e-mail message. Verbal and listening skills also help improve relationships and demonstrate a responsive and respectful leader.

The rules of common courtesy have not changed, and it is important to respond promptly to calls, e-mails and other forms of communication demonstrating sincerity and consideration. Being busy is never a valid excuse for not responding or communicating in a timely manner. Additionally, be sure your voice-mail box is cleared out periodically. Nothing is more irritating than to return an important call only to hear the person’s “mailbox is full” or not set up for callers to leave a message.

Unfortunately, technology has created situations where many people do not use good business etiquette, manners or common sense.

Some common complaints include loud phone conversations in an office or enclosed public space, especially when near others.

Although the use of texting is an acceptable means of communication in the workplace, it can be a distraction that impacts productivity. Text messaging can be misused. Do not text or read text messages during a meeting.

Constantly checking a phone for messages is another problem. Never check messages while you are speaking with someone. Have the courtesy to give the other person your full attention.

Anyone can learn the rules of etiquette. However, business professionals know proper respect and kindness say a lot about them as a leader. Demonstrating good communication etiquette shows respect for others and makes a lasting impression. Politeness never goes out of fashion, no matter what age you are nor how busy you think you are. Don’t ever believe this doesn’t matter.

To succeed in today’s HTM workplace, use excellent communication skills, etiquette and professional courtesies to give yourself a competitive edge and stand out from others.

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