A large percentage of misunderstandings and mistakes arise from unclear requests. Clear communication starts with you as the legal nurse consultant employer.
The Unclear Request
The senior partner of a law firm wants specific information about your fees. He is in a rush to get this information, and you’re in a rush to deliver it.
You tell your assistant to give him the information so that you can meet his deadline. You forget to tell her about needing to email him your fee agreement before the end of the day.
You don’t make the deadline, and you lose the prospect.
This may sound like an exaggerated worst-case scenario, but why risk it? Write down what the potential client wants and give your assistant a firm deadline.
Asking Your Employees to be Mind Readers
You ask an LNC employee to write a short report about a case. You assume she knows to check the blood alcohol levels in the lab section of the medical records of this trauma patient.
She does her best but leaves out information about the elevated blood alcohol level.
Your client calls you to say, “My adversary told me ‘Your guy was drunk when he slid off the roof.” How come I had to hear that from him and not you?”
Cringing in embarrassment, you talk to the employee who says, “You didn’t ask for that. I did not think to look.”
You say, “You should have known checking lab values on a trauma patient is part of the routine of summarizing medical records.”
This dialog goes nowhere. Luckily the client continues to give you new cases after you apologize. (Yes, this happened to me.)
Don’t Expect Your Employees and Subcontractors to Ask
You might say, “They should ask.”
However, as in the example above, they may not know what to ask because they can’t read your mind.
In other instances, they might not ask because they fear that you’ll think they’re stupid or incompetent.
You’ve initiated the request. You have the responsibility to use clear communication by making that request as clear and detailed as possible.
Clear Communication is a Time-Saving Device
If you only have a vague idea of what you want, don’t be surprised if what you receive is equally vague. Stop to think about what you want. Why do you want this document? What do you want it to communicate? Do you have a style in mind?
How much time are you willing to waste by having people around you redo work because they did not understand what you wanted? It is so aggravating!
Do away with unwritten memos. Put your requests in writing. If, for example, you know you want a 500-word document, write that down. Write down the points you want that memo to make. Give an exact date/time when you need it.
Be honest with yourself. How accessible are you to your employees? Evaluate your interchanges with them. In general, do they ask you questions? Do they act with confidence in your presence?
I’m not suggesting that your employees should be your best friends, but they should feel comfortable enough to approach you. You can encourage this with a few simple statements.
Have them read your memo in your presence. When they’re done, ask, “Do you have any questions?” or “Is anything about this unclear?”
Reinforce this line of communication by saying, “If, when you’re working on this, you come up with any questions, please ask.”
If you realize you left something important out of your memo, tell the employee at once.
You are much more likely to end up with reports that fill your needs and an overall office atmosphere that’s conducive to productiveness.