A Succinct Communication Model Every Business Leader & Team Should Be Using

As a communication expert I am always exploring new ways to help my clients communicate within what I now call The Championship Communication Triad, of prompt, direct and respectful communication.

In a discussion this week with my wife’s cousin, an emergency room nurse, she turned me on to a nursing communication model that every bussbariness leader should adopt and adapt.

It’s known by its acronym, SBAR.

SBAR represents for Situation, Background, Assessment & Recommendation.

SBAR was originally created for the nuclear submarine industry, according to Wikipedia.

In 2002, health care company Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of safety management, Doug Bonacum, adopted and adapted it for the company to improve communication between nurses and physicians.

According to a 2007 Kaiser Permanente newsletter “SBAR is designed to convey vital information in as little as 60 seconds.”

Why limit this succinct communication strategy to the nuclear submarine industry and the medical profession?

Everyone reading this can benefit from this style of communication.

Here’s a short example from a nursing-physician patient briefing conversation:

Situation:
Hello, this is Ron from Med/Surg at OMH. I’m caring for Mr. Tree in room 3. I’m calling regarding his pain control.

Background:
Mr. Tree is a 22-year old who had surgical repair of a fractured ankle 2 days ago. He has had very minimal pain control since his surgery. He has an order for Tylenol 650 mg q 4 hours for minimal to moderate pain and Morphine IV, 1-4 mg q 2 hours for severe pain. He does not have any allergies to medications. This is his first time having any type of surgery or significant injury.

Assessment:
Mr. Tree ranks his pain as a 9/10, with a quality of being sharp and radiating to his mid-calf area. He is reluctant to ambulate out of bed, even refusing to get into a chair at the bedside. His pedal pulses are equal, the surgical site is WNL, and all of his vital signs are stable.

Recommendation:
I think that Mr. Tree would benefit from some longer-lasting pain medications. What would you prefer to order? Are there any exams or labs you would like to order? What should I call you for in the future regarding his pain control?

This SBAR model can be applied to any communication where situations need to be conveyed and next steps determined quickly.

This approach provides the substantive information necessary to facilitate a 2-way dialogue that builds trust in critical relationships.

What applications do you see for it in your world?

If you were to adopt and adapt it at your company and for your team, how would it improve communication and productivity?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

’til next time, Communicate With Power!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results