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Tag: Internal Partnerships

Communicate always and all ways!

August 15th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn
Example of not wanting to have the conversation about Continuity or Disaster planning.

These 3 Buddha’s are sitting back, covering their eyes, mouth and ears. Just like an otherwise savvy business person … who does not want to have the critical conversation about Continuity or Disaster planning.

The last two months have been a flurry of webinars with similar themes – you have to communicate during a Crisis to your employees, your customers, vendors, suppliers and local/regional community! The right words and the right media for individual audiences or public/strangers will fill the void with inaccurate misinformation – in other words, info-trash that will ruin your business or your reputation!

The after-event internal reviews have consistently brought up communication omissions or shortfalls to all audiences. The clean-up work due to misinformation or false information may take months to correct.

To summarize the main points of the discussions/webinars (not in any order):

DO’s

  • Define your audiences (internal & external)
  • Define the best method to reach each audience in times of crisis (may be different by audience)
  • Have draft texts ready for use by audience, type and severity of event(s)
  • Respect the gravity/severity of each event
  • Create checklists for each phase of crisis & decide communication actions
  • Create, train & exercise the team doing the Crisis Communicating; create team structure (authority or approval levels) and backups.
  • Make sure Communication team has IT authority to update media formats (add & remove)
  • Have plan for press/media conference room, if appropriate; all else is electronic if power is available.
  • Inform and train the employees on where to receive and send information
  • Communicate with Customers with media they normally use, if possible.
  • Engage with Emergency Response Team for ‘go/no go’ decision; confirm with internal Crisis Management team for severity level to work with.
  • Monitor other media outlets for information or misinformation
  • Post only most current information; remove old/dated information
  • Keep a running total of team time & effort
  • Log any IT issues for immediate and deferred correction – don’t try to fix a minor problem in the ‘heat of moment’.
  • Have a plan for power outage scenario.

Do Not’s

  • Forget the Communication checklist
  • Use one message for every audience; tailor each message for each audience & delivery media
  • Select only one media; use them all!
  • Create new accounts during crisis (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Make the media only one way; give opportunity to send feedback
  • Expect your company is the only one involved; share connections.
  • Expect for power to be available at all times.
  • Forget to keep a list of all messages sent, to what distribution list and what media.

The organizations that hosted these webinars have materials on their web sites for further reference:

FIRESTORM WEBINARS: http://www.firestorm.com/learn/form-download-brief-six-stages-of-crisis-for-communication-planning.html

Agility Recovery: http://www2.agilityrecovery.com/assets/slides/Agility-Social_Media.pdf

Everbridge; http://www.everbridge.com/control-communication-throughout-the-lifecycle-of-a-crisis/

Vacation Preparedness at Work

July 7th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Are you ready to leave work behind and relax during your vacation? The best insurance for that peace of mind is to prepare!

Schedule that time away as soon as you can; if the personal arrangements are fixed or flexible get on the company vacation schedule as soon as reasonable to get the schedule you would prefer. You will want to be considerate of others as you expect them to support your time away as you will have to support their vacation time.

  • Some industries or companies have ‘natural’ time that is slow for business and that might be the time your company requires you to take your vacation time – learn what those dates are.
  • here are school schedules to consider as your colleagues may have specific dates they can utilize if taking children on vacation. This is also tricky if a school district has a mix of traditional and year-round schools.

Whether your job is at a desk, in a vehicle, at a workbench or on the phone all day….
Your daily work processes need to be documented and your colleagues are aware of the document, if they are not trained to do your job.

The documentation needs to include:

  • The steps of your job – flow charts or pictures of each step would be nice. How to document that the job is done or who to report ‘job complete’ is essential.
  • Any project dates that your substitute needs to be aware of such as conference calls or completion percentage put in a database.
  • Who your contacts or vendors are that help you get your job done – examples of when or why you would contact them would be helpful.
  • Where you get your supplies or inventory – is there a checkout process, who needs to know you just grabbed the last of the items, how do you verify the supplies are of the best quality & who to advise if they are not best quality?
  • Safety information: first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc. That paper cut or staple hole will bleed all over the place if you don’t get a band aid on it quick!
  • Who your immediate supervisor is and contact information.
  • Who is also trained (or cross-trained) to do your job.

** There is always a debate about leaving your contact information ‘in case’ someone needs to get in touch; that might be a phone call or schedule to check your email. Be sure to know these cultural requirements before you plan your vacation and for your traveling companions to know as well & respect that element of the vacation. For example, being in an electronic dead zone for 5 days might not be helpful if you have a requirement to be ‘in touch’ every 48 hrs. **

When you return, be humble about your time away. Don’t bring in the 3 DVDs of the island time or your grandchildren’s music recitals. One or two pictures in your work area will either be sufficient or give cause for a follow on conversation, if someone is interested.

Then get back to work:

  • find out what went right
  • what did not
  • And what the status is today

One organization I was with had a ‘vacation recap’ coffee session with treats provided by the person doing the report – that usually kept the monologue short and sweet! Then we did a reverse status update for the rested and relaxed colleague to jump right back into the work day.

AND then start planning for the next vacation!

Partnerships

April 29th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

All organizations have both internal and external partnerships – most are not well defined and due to lack formalization, can cause problems. Don’t assume that because you have conversation or communication with another group that they are your ‘partner.’

  • An internal partner might be a department you receive products from or the one you deliver products to.
  • An external partner could be a vendor, customer, next door neighbor or even a friendly competitor.
  • I always recommend you build your relationship with your attorney, banker, CPA and insurance agent into partnerships.
  • Of course, you will have those people who are a sounding board or wise counsel.

The word ‘partner’ is either a noun or a verb, per Merriam Webster.

  • >As a noun: one of two or more people, businesses, etc., that work together or do business together; someone who participates in an activity or game with another person.
  • As a verb: to join or associate with another as partner
  • Noun variation: The American Western variation of the noun is spoken as ‘pardner’.

When you build a relationship into a partnership, it has to be two-sided in dialog, action, respect and benefit – just like a personal relationship/partnership. Don’t assume that because you have conversation or communication with another group that they are your partner. (Yep, I said it before).

Let’s run through an internal partnership example:

  • Do you know the requirements, timelines and supplies for the product you are building?
  • Where or who do you get those from?
  • Do you know the names of the managers or team leaders from those areas?
  • Do you speak with them often, not just when they throw something over the wall?
  • Have you invited them to see your process and team?
  • Have you both shared your concerns about requirements, timelines or supplies?

When you have open communication with your ‘input’ team you are showing respect for their job and pressures; by showing them your process area they will gain insight into your job and pressures. When you are both communicating and understanding your mutual areas, the products will be done better in quality, faster in production and to the satisfaction of the requirements owner.

When you share information with the receiving organization or the ‘output’ team, their job will be easier as well. They will know what’s coming to them, when and in what condition. Active communication with both sides of your work area will help everyone do a better job.

For an external partner, let’s talk about your insurance agent for example:

  • How often do you talk with your agent?
  • Do you have several agents to work with? Do they know each other?
  • Do you review your future strategies or ideas with agent?
  • Has your agent done a walk-through of your facility? Do you have any new equipment or
  • layout for review?
  • Does your agent have a current list of all your equipment (and pictures in their work location)?
  • What other information on your equipment does your agent need?
  • What other information from your company does your agent need?
  • Does the agent have education information for you or employees?
  • Who can submit claims to the agent(s) and what method?

When the agent(s) can see or hear in-depth information, they can better recommend coverage for you and your company. They may have information or posters for your employees on safety or even mini-classes that might reduce your premiums. If they don’t know much, then you can bet/guess/expect that you will be under-insured.