Re: Internal communications

Subject: Re: Internal communications
From: Frederick Falk <ftf -at- ABMDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 14:44:47 +0000

Alison Bloor elucidated with eloquence:

> I'm looking for advice/book recommendations/tales of personal triumphs
> in the area of 'internal corporate communications', i.e. getting a
> company's employees to talk to each other.

> The background to this request is that I work for a small company which
> has only recently grown beyond the point where people 'just know' what's
> going on because everyone works in the same office and overhears other
> peoples' discussions. Suddenly there are people who DON'T hear what's
> going on in the normal course of their work, and need to be kept informed
> explicitly.

> I felt we needed to recognise this change and do something about it, and
> so I volunteered to be responsible for internal communication and
> information. (That's the beauty of small companies: Tech Writer to
> Communication Manager overnight!)

<stuff snipped>

> Where I'm REALLY stumped is the more psychological side...
> How do you persuade people to adopt behaviour that I imagine comes as
> second nature to most of us on this list:

> - keeping others informed of your plans instead of springing work
> on them unexpectedly
> - thinking about how your plans will affect others, and getting
> their input before going ahead
> - realising that if you want someone to know something YOU HAVE TO
> TELL THEM. (Pretty fundamental, but sadly often overlooked!)

> See my problem? Written down like that they look like common sense

Yes I do.
<some more snipped>

> So can anyone offer any practical advice -- preferably tried and tested

Well, yes, we have gone through the same thing. We are a software developer
and produce a turn-key system where we go out into the field and install our
system and train the end users. There are several people invovled with this
process and one person would always get left out of the loop and this would
cause us lots of problems. The right hand not knowing what the left hand was
doing kinda thing. Well, as a programmer, I (and others) came up with the
idea of a job tracking facility to be kept on our support computer. Sales or
Support would enter a job by type of job (hardware upgrade, install, software
add-on, etc) and a list of specific tasks would be attached to the job. Each
task is predefined as to what department is responsible for it and who in that
department usually did that job. Once the task was marked complete, the person
completeing the task could put in comments for that task. Then the system would
check and see if this task was marked with a next id. If so, email would be
automatically generated and sent to all of the individuals tied to the next id.
We also came up with a couple of codes to assign to tasks like installer and
sales rep. The system would see these and go to our database and determine who
this was and send the mail to the appropriate person. We are planning to add
on to this concept and put in a "number of days" it takes to do each task,
and when the system sees that a task is about due minus the days to complete,
the task, the system will send a reminder to the person who is response for
the previous task (if it hasn't been completed yet) and tell them to get on
the ball or to change the due dates. The automatic e-mail has saved us lots
of headaches. Also having a central place to enter comments and then be able
to retreive them quickly has been a great help, not counting having a way
to CYA! The only complaint I have had was "Why did it take so long to get
this?" (I have only been here 2 1/2 yrs) and "I am getting too many e-mail
messages per day." (must mean you are being overworked and you need to give
some responsibility to someone else). Well I hope this has given you some
ideas. For more details, you can e-mail me personally.

Oh, by the way. For those of you wondering why a programmer is on this list?
I do tech writing at night on a contract basis for the same company.
Frederick "Magic Fingers" Falk
ftf -at- abmdata -dot- com
A simple man believes anything,
but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.
A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil,
but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.
Proverbs 14:15-16

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