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What kind of role does communication play in quality improvement?

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Strong operations management means that you're an effective communicator and leader to your staff. The performance improvement or quality improvement (QI) plan gives you a tool to organize the work of the department to produce effective results. Steady, consistent information sharing with staff members is critical to ensure their involvement and commitment to mutual improvement goals.

Good managers know that quality does not happen by fiat or executive order but is a result of staff members' comprehensive understanding of what is expected of them, why it is appropriate to expect it, how they will be supported to deliver that quality, and how they will be evaluated according to defined criteria. Communication is core to QI:

  • Defining the expectations of the organization for each employee's performance
  • Clearly linking those expectations to the mission
  • Outlining for employees how their individual and team performances are measured and evaluated and keeping them informed of the results
  • Listening to employees' thoughts and ideas about potential improvement, born of direct experience in delivering care and service
  • Sharing with employees the progress and knowledge developed elsewhere in the organization, and outside it, which may help employees improve individual and team performance

Cynthia Barnard, MBA, MSJS, CPHQ

(May 2010)