Clear and concise communication is key within a business setting. Proper communication is essential in all workplace settings; however, it is more important in some career fields than in others. This Burning Glass report shows that out of the fifteen career areas they listed, they list communication skills as the number one baseline skill for thirteen of the career areas. As a reader, one will take away from this a better understanding of the importance of communication in the workplace. The interviewee in this case is office manager, Amy Young of Expert Eyecare.
1. What is your professional history (including your timeline and roles)?
“I began my career at Expert Eyecare in July of 2009 as an optometrist technician and was new to the eyecare business. About a year into the job, our current office manager was fired so I stepped in to pick up the managerial duties until another one could be hired. After a month or so, the owner had decided that management was a good fit for me at the office and I became manager overlooking two offices and managing staff, AR, insurance submission, insurance payments, various office ordering both medical supplies and office supplies, customer relations and everything in between. We then acquired a third office in 2011 and for the next three years I managed three separate offices under our Expert Eyecare family. In 2015 the owner decided to focus on one flourishing practice, so I became office manager of one of our locations and he sold the other two off.”
2. What writing advice do you have for professional communicators?
“To me, communication is the most powerful tool a professional can have. Being able to clearly and precisely convey to co-workers, peers, patients/customers and everyone else a job might entail is the cornerstone of being a successful professional. If you cannot communicate effectively and efficiently, then your ultimate goal of a successful business cannot be realized to the full potential in which it is owed.”
3. What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?
“A pet peeve of mine pertaining to professional writing would be that I find sometimes one’s voice is stifled and the point may not come across as effectively because professionals are pressured to use a “format” that doesn’t allow a lot of the written liberties that I normally would want to use. Professional writing subscribes more to a “template” type of format rather than a freedom of expression format.”
4. What kind of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?
“The business reports that I read on a daily basis are a lot of explanation of benefit reports from various insurance companies. I also have to read and compose end of day/week/month reports that include growth percentages, dollar amounts in various categories and projection expectations. I compose weekly/monthly/quarterly reports that keep track of our exam progression counts for the day/week/month, as well as contact lens units sold, annual supply units sold, retinal digital imaging pictures sold and the number of accumulated patient traffic when compared to the previous year. Monthly I compose balance bills for patients who owe the company payments depending on insurance coverage or various other reasons for balance billing as well as maintaining a monthly Accounts Receivable Report that tracks patients with outstanding bills and the timeline of their billing progression.”
5. What are your writing suggestions to make that type of report successful?
“My writing suggestions to make those particular reports successful is to keep a well-organized system in order to accurately and efficiently keep track of the various types of information for each report. Most of the reports I do require me to start with a small portion of the report and follow it through the bigger reports as it reaches the monthlies. Keeping detailed notes on hand for myself also allows me to pick up where I left off when I need to, and to quickly and efficiently stay on track to churn out the correct report at the correct time. In my job, accuracy and attention to detail is of upmost important, if I didn’t have a well-organized system, I would not be able to create any reports that would be of substance to my employer.”
6. What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators?
“The speaking advice I would give professional communicators is to know what you are communicating inside and out, backwards and forwards and with confidence. To communicate with others, take the time for yourself to make sure you know every single aspect of what you are communicating – both positives and negatives – so that you are more prepared to answer any questions as to the “why”. Communicating to people “why” something is the way it is or done the way it is done is the biggest hurdle in getting people to understand the importance of the job at hand. No one will listen to someone if they get the slightest impression that the person doesn’t have a good grasp on what they are communicating about. Be confident, speak with integrity, and know your subject like the back of your hand.”
7. Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication prior to your professional career.
“One thing I wish I had known of business communication prior to my professional career would be the importance of clearly communicating the “why” of things. Taking the time to explain “why” something is done and for what purpose is just as important as the “how” to correctly do it. I’ve learned that when people understand why something is done and done a certain way, they have more of an interest and desire to complete the task as efficiently and accurately as requested. If someone doesn’t understand the “why”, they are going through motions they both don’t care about and see any significant importance in.”
8. After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5…and why?
“After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills, I would move Organization/Multi-tasking skills, problem solving and time management into the top 5. I think each of these three skills is important to success. Without organization or a system, nothing can get done as efficiently as possible. Time management goes hand in hand with this, many jobs need things done by a deadline and you cannot afford to put it off or wait. Doing so will impact the company, client or both. Problem solving is a skill I see lost on a lot of the younger generation these days. With the internet so readily available, it is easier to “google” a how to or throw your hands up and ask someone else how to do something. I think having problem solving skills is a very solid and important asset to any company.
9. What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?
“I believe the team skills young professionals need the most are communication, listening, respect, and self-confidence. These three skills create a very strong basis for success in any job. If young professionals learn to communicate to their peers and management respectfully, the effectiveness of the task as hand increases tremendously. Listening to your peers and management allows young professionals to take in new ideas or ways of thinking they may not have thought of – thus giving them the ability to grow and learn and be more of an asset in teams of now and future endeavors. Respect and self-confidence go hand in hand. Having respect of those around you and self-confidence in yourself allow you to successfully reach the goal, even if you may not see eye to eye, this is the most effective way to get there in my opinion.”
The most important items from this interview to take with you are the importance of openness to new ideas, and the importance of solid problem solving skills. Both of these are key ingredients to having a successful professional career in any field. Listening to and taking advice from fellow coworkers and higher-ups is a fantastic way to learn new ways to do your job more efficiently. While having solid problem solving skills is more or less trivial, it is an important item many young professionals today lack. Having good problem solving skills can both set you apart from your peers, and place you higher up in the minds of your superiors.
Amy Young’s Biography
Amy Young was born and raised in Western Nebraska, where she currently lives and works. She studies law at Creighton University located in Nebraska, and is the manager of an eye care facility located in west Omaha.
Emily Belcher is sophomore in The Romain College of Business at the University of Southern Indiana. She is on the path to receiving a degree majoring in business administration with a minor in accounting.