The Power of Your Contributions

We coach people who want to be powerful and effective, to come to a discussion about concerns with not only the concern, but also with a proposed solution.

For some people, the idea is quite natural, but for others, it’s a challenging concept. They don’t know how to organize their thinking, particularly when the concern is emotionally heated.

Today we wanted to offer you a simple structure that was initially developed by the US Navy and is now being used in hospitals around the country. It’s called the SBAR Communication Technique.

SBAR stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. Using these categories, you can organize your thoughts and bring concerns and possible solutions to the table, which will always make you more successful and valuable.

Let’s take a situation that Ahmed, one of our clients, recently described. Ahmed is a successful analyst at a large company. Like most of us, he’s confident and effective – until he bumps into a mistake that is potentially costly for the organization.

Ahmed had helped with an analysis of a potential product. The analysis indicated that it was a good product to add to what the company offered. After some of the development work was done on the product, Ahmed found some new data and realized that going forward with the product was likely a mistake – a huge mistake.

Seeking support, he came to us for help.

We worked through SBAR to help him organize an approach to take to his boss. In the list below, you’ll see how SBAR works through the actual script we worked on with Ahmed.

  • Situation: What’s happening?
    The addition of new data has changed our assessment of the potential for the new product.
  • Background: What led to this?
    The data that we had available to us at the time, was not as current as we had thought. When we used that data, it indicated this product line would be very successful, but the addition of this new data suggests otherwise.
  • Assessment: What’s going on?
    There are two problems we need to address:
    We need to assess if we now have all the data we need to make a decision about this product launch and if not, figure out how to get it. AND – we need to create a process for catching this kind of error in the future as we vet other product offerings.
  • Recommendation: What do you propose?
    I’d like to bring in our consulting resource who has expertise in this area. She’ll be able to help us ensure we have the data we need to make a decision, as well as create some new processes to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Ahmed brought this information and structured response to his boss shortly after meeting with us. Needless to say, his boss was very unhappy with the news, BUT she was very pleased that Ahmed had spotted it, communicated it immediately, AND brought an action plan for moving forward.

Instead of Ahmed dropping the problem on his boss’s desk, he had already started to consider how to solve it. His boss commended Ahmed publicly for his work on this! Ahmed went from worrying he’d be fired to being seen as a key to the solution.

This week consider how you can use the SBAR communication technique to guide your approach to addressing concerns and exploring new possibilities.

~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

When challenges arise, it can be difficult to see a way forward. If you’d like to build your possibility-thinking skills, contact us today about our Executive Coaching.

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  • Linda Carpenter, Stephanie Smith

    Carpenter Smith Consulting

    Linda Carpenter and Stephanie Smith started Carpenter Smith Consulting in Portland to support individuals and teams who dream about having the power, impact and influence to create success and meaning in ... Read full profile
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