How to make more effective reports to your governing board

Updated on January 12, 2015

All EMS services or agencies are responsible and accountable to a group of stakeholders. The specific names of these stakeholders vary from service to service, but in general your service routinely reports to some sort of ownership group, advisory board, board of directors, or governmental commission.

I have had several opportunities to serve on a couple local government and non-profit organization committees and boards. Reports from staff members are a common meeting agenda item. As a board or committee member, I am most effective if I receive the answers to the following questions:

1. What are you doing well?

2. How do you know you are doing it well?

3. What do you want to do better?

4. What resources do you need to do those things better?

These questions could apply to an individual's performance or the operations of an entire organization. For example, during an annual review a service director could be evaluated on what they are doing well, like controlling fuel expenses. The data of what is being done well to control fuel expenses include reports that compare actual fuel expenses to budgeted expenses. A policy that advises employees to shut down the ambulance when posting to conserve fuel would be additional evidence.

An organization's performance and aspirations could also be organized with these questions. An organization might request that it wants to better treat patients with respiratory distress using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The resources they need to initiate a CPAP program include new equipment, support of medical direction to develop a CPAP protocol, and a training and competency verification process. Having support from a governing board at the outset of the program sets you up for future reporting of how the CPAP program is performing with data collected during the implementation period.

Identify and share successes
Surprisingly, in work I have done as a supervisor, educator, and team facilitator I have found that it is much easier for individuals and organizations to describe their faults than to share their successes. I am not sure of the cause of this phenomenon, but maybe it is to affirm to the evaluator that the reporting party is aware of shortcomings and a correction process is underway.

Fortunately, most of the time things are going well. Most patients receive great assessments and treatments. Most new protocols are easily and successfully adopted. Take pride in the great work you are doing and use every opportunity you can to share your successes.

What are you doing well?
Note that this important and difficult question specifically asks "what are you doing well?" It does not ask "what are you doing?" The things your service does include:

  • Number of runs
  • Response times
  • Response locations 
  • Mutual aid requests 
  • Maintaining vehicles 
  • Stocking equipment 
  • Delivering public education programs

Instead of reporting all of the things you do, carefully examine your service's operations to identify a handful of things that it does really well. Then get specific. Maybe your service delivers amazing public education programs. The number of kids that received coloring books during a station tour is merely interesting. A succinct summary of a program that taught kids three easy ways to recognize and respond to an emergency reflects a meaningful impact on your community.

Remember, you may only have a short amount of time to report to your governing board. Instead of quickly telling them everything your organization is doing, pick just a few. Start your report by saying, "There are so many successes I could tell you about, but since time is limited I just want to share some details about one accomplishment our members are especially proud of." This technique leaves you with material for follow-up questions and is a great lead in for asking for new, different, or additional resources.


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