The SBAR Communication Framework: How it Can Save Time & Increase Productivity
by Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified
Picture this: You’re a superhero with the power to make everyone’s day just a little bit better. Your mission is to save the world from wasted time and pointless meetings. You swoop in and use your superpower of clear and concise communication to save the day!
When you do this, you’re not just a communication hero. You’re also a master of recognition, respecting people’s time and valuing their productivity. Just like a superhero, you have the ability to recognize the importance of time and impact lives.
Does the idea of communication being a time saver seem about as likely as a billionaire working evenings and weekends, squirrelled away in his lair, just waiting for the opportunity to thrash it out with the “baddies” of society? (Because you and I both know he’d be on a yacht populating his Instagram account in real life.)
Unlikely or not, wouldn’t it be nice if it weren’t just fiction?
Superhuman Communication Skills
Let me introduce you to SBAR, the most straightforward communication tool I know. It’s a handy little acronym that stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation.
The U.S. Navy initially developed SBAR as a way for submariners to communicate critical information in a concise and structured way and then adopted by healthcare as a patient safety tool. That’s where my love affair with SBAR started.
I was first introduced to SBAR almost 20 years ago working in healthcare as a tool to help improve communication between healthcare professionals (such as at shift handoff or when calling in a specialist to the bedside about a critical patient issue). I gotta tell you, for me, it was love at first sight (speak?). I could see how this juicy little framework was the most delicious opportunity to improve corporate messaging – from one-on-one communication to email announcements to town halls!
I’m getting ahead of myself. First, what does SBAR stand for:
- Situation: This is a brief description of the current situation or issue at hand.
- Background: This includes relevant background information that may help understand the situation.
- Assessment: This is an analysis of the situation and any potential risks or concerns.
- Recommendation: This is where you suggest a course of action or solution to address the situation.
The idea is that when everyone expects information to be delivered and received in the same format, it becomes a fast, easy and accurate way to share even complicated information quickly. See what I mean by communication superpower?!
Be the hero across communication mediums! Here are places SBAR can save the day:
Use SBAR to structure your next powerful presentation. Ensure you cover all the essential points: Start with the situation, provide background information, give your assessment, and end with a recommendation. Presentations can be the kryptonite for some of us; fear not because you can communicate your ideas with laser-like precision for action-oriented impact.
At one time, we thought emails would be our saviour. Remember that (oh, how naive we were!) If you want to save the world from the evil villain of confusing and lengthy emails (at least for your email recipients), try using SBAR to help you get your point across more clearly and succinctly. Start with the situation, provide background information, give your assessment, and end with a recommendation or a call to action.
Using SBAR is like having a trusty sidekick by your side, ready to break down those dense reports into easy-to-understand sections. Why must reports be challenging to read and an evil time waster in your busy day? Using SBAR can make them more accessible and easier to understand. Start with a summary of the situation, provide background information, give your assessment, and end with a set of recommendations or next steps. Don’t make people search for the point in your reports; shine that bat signal in the sky with the juiciest points outlined with razor-sharp precision.
Terrific Team Meetings
Meetings are the time villains of the workplace, sucking the life and productivity out of everyone if we’re not careful. SBAR can be a helpful tool to structure team meetings and ensure that everyone is on the same page and stays that way. Start with the situation, provide background information, give your assessment, and end with a recommendation or a call to action. Want bonus marks for advanced superpower meeting skills? Use SBAR as a debriefing tool to reflect on the effectiveness of the meeting before you take part in your next work mission!
Collaborative Challenging Conversations
Would you love to have the superpower of resolving conflicts with grace, assertiveness and ease? Sometimes it can be hard to bring up a tricky issue with someone, but using SBAR can help you stay focused and get your message across without being confrontational. Start with the situation, provide background information, give your assessment, and end with a recommendation or a request for input.
Remember, you’re not just a superhero at work! Why not try leveraging SBAR the next time you discuss a problem and seek a solution with a friend or family member? Start with the situation, provide background information, give your assessment, and end with a recommendation or a call to action. Then, co-create a powerful next step to resolve the challenge.
The Last Word:
Are you ready to unleash your communication superpowers? Using the SBAR formula is like having a secret weapon to communicate more effectively, save time, and avoid misunderstandings. Whether you’re in a high-stakes meeting or need to address a tricky issue, SBAR has your back! Just follow these simple steps:
- Situation: Identify the main issue you need to address
- Background: Provide context and relevant information
- Assessment: Analyze the situation and make a clear assessment
- Recommendation: End with a powerful call to action or recommendation that will save the day!
So go ahead, put on your communication cape, and give SBAR a try. Your team will thank you for it!
Here are some other productivity tips to get you on track:
PS – Want more? Check out how I dive into this and other simple helpful frameworks in Communication for Clarity and Confidence.