Electronic logbooks and the 10 commandments of healthy communication

The last of the six Special Technical Presentations on Tuesday afternoon at WTUI’s 25th anniversary meeting in Long Beach, Mar 15-18, 2015, wasn’t technical at all, but it might have been of greatest interest to the majority of attendees. eLogger Inc of Cloquet, Minn, and Schick Corporate Learning presented an eBoot Camp that encouraged attendees to transition to an electronic logbook because of its ability to meet the specific information needs of various disciplines in an organization virtually instantly.

The presentation was delivered by Ted Schick, a corporate trainer/consultant based in Esko, Minn, a retired naval officer who rose up from the enlisted ranks. Many attendees could relate to that accomplishment given the large percentage of Western Turbine members who also started their careers in the US Navy.

With a greying shore-side powerplant workforce transitioning to retirement, Schick’s “10 Commandments of Healthy Communication” offered sage advice for very capable technicians stepping up into supervisory positions. In the majority of cases, they did not have to be “sold” on the value of electronic data capture but they might not have been aware of all the benefits offered by an electronic logbook. Here’s a snapshot of what Schick had to say minus the screen shots he used to illustrate various points:

Commandment 1: Be aware of your non-verbals—60% of the message is in your body language, 30% in your voice/tone. People will recall only about 10% of what you say.

2: Listen. Good leaders really listen. This is listening to understand, Schick said, not just respond. Active listening is a practiced art, he added.

3: Be approachable, visible, accessible. Good leaders get out from behind their desks. People should feel comfortable coming to you with issues and concerns, Schick continued. When they do, they feel you care and can help; when they do not, you are no longer their leader.

   Operational information in an electronic logbook is always legible and easily accessible, and it promotes healthy communication.

4: Use the chain-of-command. Too many people do not really understand what the chain-of-command is used for, the ex-naval officer said. He pointed out that it is not just a military thing. Properly used, problems within the organization are handled at the lowest level possible, freeing those at the upper levels of the organization to think about what they should be focused on.

   Use of security, mandatory entry fields, and automated emails incorporated into a proper electronic logbook allows everyone from the lowest to the upper levels of the organization to be informed on the specific issues they need to be aware of.

5: Be succinct and to the point. People are busy and appreciate those who speak with purpose and brevity. Schick urged attendees to say what they need to say, say it, and stop talking.

   Customizable templates offered with eLogger allow you to capture the data essential to your plant via a user-friendly interface with the majority of the entries point and click.

6: Connect frequently. See for yourself what is going on by visiting with your team members on a routine basis.

   Entry acknowledgements, conditional emails, and notifications allow you to deliver important information immediately to those who need to know.

7: Keep your promises. Your reputation as a leader depends on keeping the promises made to your team. Schick said he would remember what you told him you would do—but would you?

   Required entries in electronic logbooks remind individuals to perform specific tasks as frequently as once per minute or as infrequently as annually.

8: Provide feedback. If we are doing our jobs right as leaders, the speaker stressed, we are constantly giving feedback—from easy to hard conversations. Formal or informal, don’t shy away from connecting with your employees.

   Appended entries allow those with security rights to provide feedback on existing entries while maintaining the integrity of the initial entry.

9: Keep people informed. This is respect, Schick said. When people do not know what is going on in an organization, he cautioned, they make stuff up—and it almost always is wrong.

   The primary function of an electronic logbook is to keep people informed with tools such as shift turnover reports, saved searches, and custom data-entry screens—all with your plant’s specific information.

10: Have a vision and strategy. We all need to know where we are going and this need is not reserved for the pinnacle of the organization, but for all levels. Create, execute, and communicate direction and the way to get there, and then keep people informed.

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