Have you ever had a day at work where you had to deal with employee drama and the experience left you feeling like a Middle School Vice Principle?

If so, then I have a solution for you that has the power to downgrade the drama and get people acting like adults again.

The solution is found in teaching your staff how to use a simple communication framework called SBAR.

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SBAR is an acronym for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Response, and it’s become very popular in healthcare especially when handing off a patient to someone else.

Situation: What’s going on? This is where you tell someone the current facts, in a clear and concise manner. Think of this as the headline of a newspaper that is meant to grab someone’s attention.

Background: This is the backstory which gives us context. Context can completely change how we see a situation. When people communicate an issue, they tend to start with a long backstory. They do this so they can help shape how you look at the situation. The problem though is that it’s often filled with unhelpful drama.

Assessment: Assessment is when you share what you think about the situation.

Recommendation: This is where you let people know what you need from them or what you think needs to happen next.

Let’s see an example of SBAR in action.
Imagine there was a heated exchange at the production meeting between a member of the sales team and someone from manufacturing. (I know this is highly fictional and there would never be an argument between sales and manufacturing but go with me on this one.)

One of your employees came to fill you in, and it probably sounded something like this:

“Hey Boss, can I talk to you for a minute? I’m not sure if you heard but it was a circus at this morning’s production meeting. The meeting started out OK, but then the sales guys started reporting on their latest victories. They are doing this new contest all month to close sales. They have a crazy goal and this big graphic with a mountain on it and each time they close a sale they move the little mountain climber further up the mountain. Anyways, they were telling us all about it and were high fiving each other because they had closed so many new orders this week.
Well the entire time they’re doing this, all of us in manufacturing are getting more and more frustrated because we’re busting our butts trying to keep up with orders and I know this is a good thing, but we’re short staffed, and we don’t want to compromise on quality and the sales guys know this. But they don’t care about us. All they want is to pump up their numbers and get bonuses while the rest of us try to keep up. It’s not fair. So Steve ended up yelling at them, and then Jerry from Sales called him a big baby. Geez, I hate those guys.”

This two-minute rant by your employee is what a Drama Bomb looks like.

Now, in addition to everything else you have to do, you need to solve another problem, or is that ten problems.

It’s hard to know, or even where to start.

Introducing SBAR

Now let’s run this entire conversation through SBAR, and you will see that it strips out the emotion and the drama and gets everyone focused on solutions.

“Hey Boss Can I grab a minute?
S: Jerry yelled at the sales team today in the morning production meeting.
B: The sales guys have some contest going to close new clients. So at the meeting, they were high-fiving each other about all their new orders. Steve got frustrated because we’re short staffed and don’t feel like we can keep up and he ended up yelling at them.
A: I think we need to get the sales team and our team on the same page and we need to get someone hired to fill the vacancy we have.
R: Can you talk to HR to see if they can speed up getting us a new machinist, and also I think it would be good if you can come to Friday’s meeting to help all of us find a solution to get us through this period while we’re short staffed.”

By using SBAR, it forces people to strip out a lot of drama, judgments, and accusations, and get focused on a solution. It’s easy to learn, and with a little practice, you’ll see a dramatic reduction in workplace drama.

Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation.